Big East launches plan to sell tickets directly over the internet for the first time since 2003

Debby Wong-USA TODAY Sports

"Glory Awaits" at Madison Square Garden in March, fans will be reminded as the Big East launches a campaign to pack the arena for the Big East Tournament.

The Big East Tournament at Madison Square Garden is something that most fans will have some fond memories of. Whether watching it from the comfort of their home, the camaraderie of a bar, or the stands at MSG themselves, many of the great Big East moments came during that one week in early March. Now, with a new Big East in place, the league is doing something that hasn't happened in over a decade; selling tickets directly to the public.

"By going from a 16 to 10-team field, we are able to make tickets available to college basketball lovers who do not have access to tickets through the individual schools," said Commissioner Val Ackerman. "We are very excited to open the tournament to a new group of fans, especially those in the New York City area."

The last time the conference sold tickets to the general public was 2003, before the first time the ACC raided the league for Miami, Virginia Tech and Boston College.

In its previous incarnation, the Big East distributed tickets through its member schools, who gave them to season ticket holders, donors, students, and other VIPs. The new Big East also is distributing some tickets through the 10 member schools, but a block will remain for the general public, allowing anyone to purchase a strip of tickets for all five sessions of the event, directly through BigEast.com.

"The BIG EAST Men's Tournament at Madison Square Garden is one of the most anticipated events on New York City's sports calendar, and we expect a large turnout from fans, alumni and supporters of our schools, including our three new members, Creighton, Butler and Xavier, who will experience the tournament atmosphere at the Garden for the first time," added Ackerman.

The campaign to sell tickets and fill in the stands at the end-of-season tournament will be titled "Glory Awaits," and it launches this week. Designed to tug at the heartstrings of fans, and draw them in via social media, targeted email, digital, print, television and in-arena advertising, it will be a full-court-press to sell tickets from the league office.

The league has previously announced that New York Life will be the Presenting Sponsor for the Big East Men's Basketball Tournament as well as the post-season championships for all sports that the league organizes for its members.

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