The Big East Tournament and Madison Square Garden Stay TogetherPosted by mlemaire on October 17th, 2012
Television rights negotiations may have stalled, but new Big East commissioner Mike Aresco made sure that the Big East Tournament isn’t going anywhere as he announced today at Big East Media Day a new 10-year contract between the conference and Madison Square Garden. The contract will keep the Big East Tournament in New York City for at least another 14 years and any college basketball fan who has watched some of the past Big East Tournaments played there should be happy the tournament is staying put. It is hard to even imagine this conference tournament somewhere else, just because of all the history and tradition that the venue and tournament have provided over the years.
This deal is huge news for the Big East and its fans who have been searching for some good news amidst a sea of defection announcements and stalled television rights negotiations. There may be fewer marquee teams on display in the league starting next season, but any tournament held at Madison Square Garden, especially one as annually competitive as this one, will capture a national audience and draw fans to New York City. That is likely one of the main reasons why James Dolan and the rest of the decision-makers at Madison Square Garden agreed to the deal instead of chasing after the ACC Tournament as many had speculated.
The move is especially nice for the Big East because it effectively blocks the ACC from using the venue anytime in the near future. When it was announced that Pittsburgh, Syracuse, and Notre Dame were all leaving for the ACC, many commentators thought that the ACC would try to extend its footprint into New York City and have their tournament at Madison Square Garden. It made a lot of sense considering how many fans of a “home” team like Syracuse show up for the games. But ACC commissioner John Swofford ruled the Garden out as a potential destination last month, and while Aresco told the media that his conference’s deal had nothing to do with the ACC or any other league, it probably feels pretty nice not to have to look over his shoulder anymore.