SBD/March 12, 2014/Events and Attractions

Ackerman Pleased With Year One As New-Look Big East Tourney Gets Under Way

Ackerman says lots of work remains, but the big items have been addressed
Big East Commissioner Val Ackerman said that she is "pleased with the first season of the new league," according to Zach Braziller of the N.Y. POST. Ackerman "admitted there is a possibility of expansion down the road." However, she said that the league’s presidents "favor the 10-team, round-robin format" for the Big East Tournament. Ackerman: "We’re among the best (conferences in the country)." She added that she expects this week "to build on the memories the Big East Tournament created over the years, and establish new rivalries in the years to come" (N.Y. POST, 3/10). In N.Y., Zach Schonbrun profiles Ackerman's first nine months on the job and notes she is still operating out of a temporary HQ on the "24th floor of the Proskauer Rose law firm's office in Manhattan." While the conference is "still searching for a residence," the progress the Big East has made "on more important matters, such as lining up sponsors, spearheading a new advertising campaign and making sure a 12-year deal with Fox Sports, worth $500 million, did not go to waste." Ackerman said, "We still have things to do, don't get me wrong. But we've pulled this off. It hasn't been perfect, but I think we've addressed the big items." Tickets to this week's Big East Tournament were "made available to the public for the first time" since '03. Ackerman said that this was a "result of six fewer teams participating than in some recent seasons." But Schonbrun notes sales "have been sluggish." TiqIQ VP/Data & Communications Chris Matcovich said that the "average price for a ticket to the championship game on the resale market was down" 18% from last year. Ackerman: "The landscape, I think, is far from settled. We're in a quiet period in terms of alignment. It's not like it was a couple of years ago. But I think our schools are set for now" (N.Y. TIMES, 3/12).

BIG LEAST? In N.Y., Ben Fischer writes MSG "just won't be the same." Fans "simply aren't that interested -- at least compared to the prior years of the event that once stood as the pinnacle of college basketball's conference tournaments." Data from SeatGeek.com showed that "none of the five days are sold out" and prices for the Saturday semifinals are "down 32 percent and the Sunday championship game is down 48 percent." SeatGeek.com Communications Analyst Connor Gregoire said, "There may be room for prices to rise for the semifinal and championship sessions if nearby Villanova or, better yet, St. John's makes a deep run in the tournament, but on the other side of the coin, if Creighton and its Omaha fan base advance to Friday and/or Saturday, prices will likely fall even further" (BIZJOURNALS.com, 3/12). SNY's Sal Licata said, "I couldn't even name you the teams in the Big East" ("Loud Mouths," SNY, 3/11).

JUST GIVE IT A CHANCE: The AP's Jim O'Connell wrote this week's tourney will show "if that 10-team league can drum up the interest of the 'old' Big East." The first tournament "without those highly ranked schools that brought a lot of fervent fans along will be watched by many to see if [it] lives up to the past." St. John's coach Steve Lavin said, "It's important, but I don't see any reason why it won't deliver an outstanding tournament as the conference has for years" (AP, 3/11). In Philadelphia, Bob Ford writes under the header, "Big East Tournament Not What It Used To Be." What the remnants of the Big East "will become is still unknown." What it is "now is better than might have been feared, but also somewhat less than might have been hoped" (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 3/12). In N.Y., Mike Vaccaro writes fans need to "let the New Big East breathe." Fans need to "stop comparing 2014 to 1985, stop wondering if this new basketball alliance can ever compare with the old one which we still remember fondly" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 3/12).

TRIPLE THREAT POSITION
: On Long Island, Neil Best writes finding the Big East tournament broadcasts on FS1 "might be a bit of a challenge." But FS1's "credibility will be helped immensely by the A-list announcing crew it has deployed" in Gus Johnson, Bill Raftery and Erin Andrews. All three are "hugely popular, including in social media and among young fans" (NEWSDAY, 3/11).
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