By Barry Janoff
October 18, 2012: The Big East Conference and Madison Square Garden have agreed to a multi-year extension of their contract under which the Big East Championship would remain in the venue.
Madison Square Garden, currently in the midst of a nearly $1 billion renovation, has been the home of the Big East Championship since 1983. Both parties are planning major activation behind the 30th anniversary of the event.
Financial terms of the alliance were not disclosed.
The deal comes at a time of major transition for the Big East. Syracuse and Pittsburgh are moving to the ACC following this season and Notre Dame is following them in 2014. Miami, Boston College and West Virginia already have departed.
Concurrently, Temple, Memphis, Southern Methodist, Central Florida and Houston are scheduled to join the Big East for all sports beginning in 2013.
The deal also comes as the just-opened Barclays Center across the East River in Brooklyn has taken some college hoops thunder away from Madison Square Garden. Among the events scheduled for Barclays Center's rookie year are the Barclays Center Classic (Nov. 9), the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic (Nov. 16-17), the Progressive Legends Classic (Nov. 19-2), the Brooklyn Hoops Holiday Invitational (Dec. 22) and the Atlantic 10 Conference league tournament (March),
“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," Big East commissioner Mike Aresco said in a statement. “We are happy that our teams will continue to bring the excitement of Big East basketball to the Garden.”
The 30th annual Big East Championship will be held March 12-16, 2013.
"The Big East Tournament . . . routinely features all the excitement, passion and suspense of the very best in college basketball."
According to Joel Fisher, evp for MSG Sports, “Madison Square Garden is thrilled to be extending our relationship with The Big East, an outstanding partner for 30 years. 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."
For the coming season, Big East Conference men's hoops teams include Cincinnati, Connecticut, DePaul, Georgetown, defending champion Louisville, Marquette, Notre Dame, Pittsburgh, Providence, Rutgers, Seton Hall, St. John's, Syracuse, University of Southern Florida and Villanova.
"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,” said Fisher.