The BIG EAST Conference and The Madison Square Garden Company (NYSE: MSG) announced today an extension through 2028 of their agreement to hold the BIG EAST Tournament at The World’s Most Famous Arena. The agreement also ensures that the Tournament will be staged on its traditional dates at the close of college basketball’s regular season.
The BIG EAST and Madison Square Garden have been partners since the Tournament was first played at the iconic venue in 1983. The BIG EAST Tournament is the longest-running postseason championship at the same location in college basketball.
“Our new agreement with Madison Square Garden means that BIG EAST schools, players and supporters will have the privilege of playing our conference tournament at the ‘Mecca of College Basketball’ without interruption for another decade,” said BIG EAST Commissioner Val Ackerman. “The BIG EAST Tournament at MSG has long been synonymous with tradition, rivalries and heart-stopping moments, and we are very grateful to Jim Dolan, Andy Lustgarten and Joel Fisher for their support of one of the most enduring alliances in the sports world.”
“Madison Square Garden and the BIG EAST Conference has been the best marriage in college basketball for 36 years,” said Joel Fisher, executive vice president, MSG Marquee Events. “The BIG EAST Tournament has been a pillar event at The Garden and has given generations of basketball fans unforgettable memories. We would like to thank the conference and member schools for their long-term commitment to Madison Square Garden and look forward to providing fans with exciting basketball for years to come.”
The 2019 BIG EAST Tournament will be played March 13-16. In 2018, the BIG EAST enjoyed its highest tournament attendance levels since the league reconfigured in 2013-14, with three of the five sessions selling out. The action on the floor typified BIG EAST Tournament play over the years, with Villanova defeating Providence 76-66 in overtime in the championship game in front of a boisterous sellout crowd. Three weeks later, Villanova went on to win its second NCAA national title in three years.
One of college basketball’s most prestigious events, the BIG EAST Tournament has been a staple of the New York City sports scene for decades. The BIG EAST and the Garden signed their first agreement to bring the Tournament to MSG on October 7, 1981. St. John’s won the first BIG EAST Tournament at MSG in 1983, with Chris Mullin, the Johnnies’ current head coach, named Most Valuable Player.
The move to Madison Square Garden helped accelerate the BIG EAST’s rapid ascent on the national scene, enabling the league to showcase highly-ranked teams with All-American players who now had the opportunity to play in the premier building in the nation’s largest media market.
The BIG EAST tradition of basketball competition at the highest level has continued with the conference’s current 10-school alignment. Since reconfiguration in 2013-14, BIG EAST schools have earned 28 NCAA Tournament bids, with more than half of the league on average qualifying for the Big Dance in each of the past five seasons. Two BIG EAST players, Creighton’s Doug McDermott and Villanova’s Jalen Brunson, were named consensus national players of the year in 2014 and 2018, respectively. Last year, Villanova and Xavier were awarded NCAA Tournament No. 1 seeds, with four other squads receiving invitations.
For nearly 140-years, Madison Square Garden has been the epicenter of sports and entertainment and in New York City, hosting thousands of unforgettable events – from last year’s Grammy Awards, to Pope Francis’ celebrated mass, to NCAA basketball and wrestling tournaments – to go along with many incredible Big East Tournament moments over the past three-plus decades.
THE BIG EAST:
The BIG EAST Conference is an association of ten nationally prominent colleges and universities that foster healthy athletic competition, community service and the pursuit of excellence in academic environments. The athletic programs of BIG EAST institutions provide national-caliber participation opportunities for more than 3,500 student-athletes on over 180 men’s and women’s teams in 22 sports. Established in 1979 and headquartered in New York City, the BIG EAST’s members are located in seven of the country’s top 36 largest media markets and include Butler University, Creighton University, DePaul University, Georgetown University, Marquette University, Providence College, St. John’s University, Seton Hall University, Villanova University and Xavier University. For more information, visit www.bigeast.com.
About The Madison Square Garden Company
The Madison Square Garden Company (MSG) is a world leader in live sports and entertainment experiences. The company presents or hosts a broad array of premier events in its diverse collection of iconic venues: New York’s Madison Square Garden, Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden, Radio City Music Hall and Beacon Theatre; the Forum in Inglewood, CA; The Chicago Theatre; and the Wang Theatre in Boston. Other MSG properties include legendary sports franchises: the New York Knicks (NBA), the New York Rangers (NHL) and the New York Liberty (WNBA); two development league teams – the Westchester Knicks (NBAGL) and the Hartford Wolf Pack (AHL); and esports teams through Counter Logic Gaming, a leading North American esports organization, and Knicks Gaming, MSG’s NBA 2K League franchise. In addition, the Company features the popular original production – the Christmas Spectacular Starring the Radio City Rockettes – and through Boston Calling Events, produces New England’s preeminent Boston Calling Music Festival. Also under the MSG umbrella is TAO Group, a world-class hospitality group with globally-recognized entertainment dining and nightlife brands: Tao, Marquee, Lavo, Avenue, Beauty & Essex and Vandal. More information is available at www.themadisonsquaregardencompany.com