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MSG and the Big East, Still BFFs

The ACC put it out there in the fall, that their own tournament could be heading to Madison Square Garden at some point in the future. With Syracuse, Pittsburgh and Boston College, they certainly have enough northeastern presence to make that move seem reasonable, but would the World's Most Famous Arena really end it's 30-year relationship with the Big East conference in favor of the North Carolina-based conference? claimed that it is an inevitable outcome earlier in the week. The Big East tournament is one of college basketball's greatest spectacles and MSG fancies itself as the proper venue for such an event, but if the tournament takes a step back without Syracuse there to play overtime games or Pittsburgh, who have had their own memorable Big East Tournament moments, or West Virginia who won the tournament for the first time in 2010.

Maybe the addition of Pitt and Syracuse will change things for the better, but ACC basketball attendance has trended downward over the past four years, and their tournament hasn't always been a huge draw in recent years, even in the conference's basketball heartland of North Carolina. The ACC tournament was held at the cavernous Georgia Dome in 2001 and 2009, but attendance issues in Atlanta have shifted it to the smaller Philips Arena this year

With that in mind and with the Big East tournament selling out consistently over the past few years (even if member schools buy the majority of tickets), Madison Square Garden is looking to give the Big East an extension on their annual lease, according to the NY Post.

Reportedly, the conference is closing in on a 10-year extension of its exclusive deal to hold a conference tournament at the arena. That would keep the Big East brand name on the floor at MSG every March through 2026, since the current deal stretches through 2016.

"We’ve been having conversations with the Garden and I think it’s just a matter of dotting some ‘I’s’ and crossing some ‘T’s,’’ Big East commissioner John Marinatto told The Post.

It certainly doesn't hurt that the president of Madison Square Garden Sports has a Big East connection. Scott O'Neil, who oversees events like the Big East tournament in addition to the four professional teams that call it home, got his bachelors degree in Marketing from Villanova in 1992.