Commissioner Mike Aresco announced this morning at Big East media day that the conference has extended its contract to host the Big East tournament at Madison Square Garden. The deal is reportedly a 10-year extension for the conference, whose current deal ends in 2016 — meaning that the Big East tournament will remain at the "World's Most Famous Arena" until at least 2026.
This news ends any thoughts that the Big East might not have been able to retain one of it's most valuable assets: Location. The postseason spectacle produced by the conference will remain in the media capitol.
"Madison Square Garden has been the BIG EAST’s home for 30 years, and has produced some of the signature moments in college basketball history," said Commissioner Mike Aresco. "We are happy that our teams will continue to bring the excitement of BIG EAST basketball to the Garden."
"Madison Square Garden is thrilled to be extending our relationship with The BIG EAST, an outstanding partner for 30 years," added Joel Fisher, executive vice president of MSG Sports. "The BIG EAST Tournament is perennially one of The Garden's most widely anticipated events, and routinely features all the excitement, passion and suspense of the very best in college basketball. As the mecca of basketball, there's no question that the transformed, state-of-the-art Madison Square Garden arena is the perfect setting for unforgettable BIG EAST moments for years to come."
The last seven years of the Big East tournament have sold out in advance and over 3.3 million fans have attended the event since 1983.
This news also ends any discussion of the ACC moving their tournament to the Manhattan arena. It will be a long time before the Big East's lease there ends. Ultimately the Big East seems to fit the arena's needs better by offering an annual event, rather than one that could be shifted between multiple sites over a period of years.
The new Barclays Center in Brooklyn is also currently unavailable for the first week in March as they have leased the facility to the Atlantic 10 conference.
The ACC might still try one of two arenas in New Jersey; the Prudential Center (home of Seton Hall basketball) and the IZOD Center (which does not host basketball regularly anymore), which may both be available for a conference tournament in the future. In any case, the ACC's bidding process for their 2016-2021 tournaments ended recently without mention of any New York-area facilities submitting a proposal.
A number of other venues did submit bids for the ACC tournament, including Pittsburgh's Consol Energy Center and Washington D.C.'s Verizon Center, home of the Georgetown Hoyas. The Verizon Center previously hosted the ACC tournament in 2005.
For now, it seems, the Big East will retain its stranglehold on the island of Manhattan.