ROSEMONT, Ill. -- The Big Ten Conference announced today an extensive agreement with Madison Square Garden to feature the Big Ten Men's Basketball Tournament in New York City for the first time in 2018, along with men's basketball and hockey doubleheaders hosted by the legendary arena from 2016 through 2019 and a significant branding presence both inside and outside the building.
"We are thrilled to establish this long-term partnership with Madison Square Garden, one of the most-revered brands and buildings in all of sports," Big Ten Commissioner James E. Delany said. "This pairing is a natural fit for us as we continue to extend our brand and live in two regions of the country. The Garden has been the site of countless iconic moments throughout history, and we look forward to showcasing some of the best basketball and hockey programs in the country through this partnership."
"We are proud and honored to collaborate with the Big Ten on this unprecedented partnership," Joel Fisher, executive vice president, MSG Sports, said. "Teaming up with the Big Ten for the men's basketball tournament and the basketball and hockey doubleheaders will be a win for college sports fans and the nearly 100,000 conference alumni that live in the New York metropolitan area."
The 2018 Big Ten Men's Basketball Tournament will be held at Madison Square Garden from Wednesday, Feb. 28, through Sunday, March 4, with all 14 conference programs competing for the Big Ten's automatic berth to the NCAA Tournament. The 2018 event will be held one week earlier than previous tournaments, ending seven days before NCAA Tournament Selection Sunday.
Big Ten men's basketball and hockey programs will also be featured at Madison Square Garden during the regular season, with four consecutive doubleheaders featuring conference competition held in late January or early February from 2016 through 2019. The first doubleheader will feature the Michigan and Penn State basketball and hockey teams playing at The Mecca on Jan. 30, 2016.
In addition, the Big Ten will receive year-round branding opportunities at Madison Square Garden, including signage inside and outside of the facility and select promotion through print, television and social media outlets affiliated with the arena and its tenants.
Madison Square Garden is celebrating 80 years of college basketball this season, with the first games held on December 29th, 1934, when Westminster defeated St. John's and NYU beat Notre Dame. The Garden is home to many historic moments in its illustrious history - NCAA and NIT Championships, Big East Tournaments, "The Sweater Game," Oscar Robertson's 56 point outburst against Seton Hall and the historic CCNY Double Championship. And, for the first time in 53 years the NCAA Tournament returned to The Garden last season, including an appearance by Michigan State from the Big Ten. The Garden is poised again to deliver New York area fans many more thrilling moments well into the future.
The Big Ten Men's Basketball Tournament has been held in either Chicago or Indianapolis through the first 17 years of its existence. The annual event returns to the United Center for the ninth time in 2015 and will be held at Bankers Life Fieldhouse for the 10th time in 2016, before making its first appearance on the East Coast when the 2017 event is held at the Verizon Center in Washington, D.C. The tournament will return to Chicago in 2019 and 2021 and Indianapolis in 2020 and 2022.
Six different Big Ten programs have officially won the tournament, including Michigan State claiming a fourth crown last March. Each of the last two tournaments have been sold out, including a conference record of more than 124,000 fans at the United Center in 2013 and over 111,000 fans at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in 2014, the largest attendance in Indianapolis. More than 1.6 million fans have enjoyed the tournament since the inaugural event in 1998.
The Big Ten has made a series of announcements highlighting the conference's increased presence on the East Coast, beginning with the addition of Maryland and Rutgers as future conference members in November 2012. In June 2013, the Big Ten announced the acceptance of Johns Hopkins University as the conference's first sport affiliate member for men's lacrosse, and also announced an agreement to take part in the New Era Pinstripe Bowl, sending conference football teams to play at Yankee Stadium on an annual basis.
In May, the conference unveiled plans to take part in the Gavitt Tipoff Games, an annual early-season men's basketball series with the Big East named in honor of Dave Gavitt, and announced that the 2017 Big Ten Men's Basketball Tournament will be held at the Verizon Center in Washington, D.C. In June, the Big Ten officially opened a second office in New York City and has also secured access to satellite office space in Washington, D.C. Maryland and Rutgers officially joined the Big Ten on July 1, and with broader East Coast distribution, BTN now has more than 60 million subscribers.
The 2014 Big Ten football season has featured increased attendance numbers for both Maryland and Rutgers. The Terrapins and Scarlet Knights filled their stadiums to 95 percent capacity in conference games this season with five sellouts, after combining to sell out two conference home games the previous four seasons combined. The fall sport season has also featured Big Ten Championships for Maryland in field hockey and men's soccer, and the Terrapins won the Big Ten Men's Soccer Tournament. The inaugural Big Ten Lacrosse Tournaments will debut in spring of 2015 with Maryland hosting the men's event and Rutgers serving as the site of the women's tournament.
About The Madison Square Garden Company:
The Madison Square Garden Company is comprised of three business segments: MSG Sports, MSG Media and MSG Entertainment and is built on a foundation of iconic venues and compelling content that the company creates, produces, presents and/or distributes through its programming networks and other media assets. MSG Sports owns and operates the following sports franchises: the New York Knicks (NBA), the New York Rangers (NHL), the New York Liberty (WNBA), the Westchester Knicks (NBADL) and the Hartford Wolf Pack (AHL). MSG Sports also features the presentation of a wide variety of live sporting events including professional boxing, college basketball, bull riding and tennis. MSG Media is a leader in production and content development for multiple distribution platforms, including content originating from the Company's venues. MSG Media's television networks consist of regional sports networks, MSG Network and MSG+, collectively referred to as MSG Networks. MSG Entertainment is one of the country's leaders in live entertainment. MSG Entertainment creates, produces and/or presents a variety of live productions, including the Radio City Christmas Spectacular and the New York Spring Spectacular, both featuring the Rockettes. MSG Entertainment also presents or hosts other live entertainment events such as concerts, family shows and special events in the Company's diverse collection of venues. These venues consist of Madison Square Garden, The Theater at Madison Square Garden, Radio City Music Hall, the Beacon Theatre, the Forum in Inglewood, CA, The Chicago Theatre, and the Wang Theatre in Boston, MA. More information is available at www.themadisonsquaregardencompany.com.