Big Ten Tournament Sees First Sellout In Indy; Bigger Venue In The Future?
This year will mark the first time the Big Ten men's basketball tournament has "ever been sold out in the nine years that it's been held in Indianapolis," according to Anthony Schoettle of the INDIANAPOLIS BUSINESS JOURNAL. Conference officials recently said that more than 109,000 tickets have been sold, which "tops the previous high -- in 2012 -- of 107,737." Last year marked the "first time the tournament sold out" in Chicago. Big Ten Associate Commissioner of Men's Basketball Rick Boyages "credits the increased ticket demand to improved television deals the conference has with CBS and ESPN along with the growth of the Big Ten Network." Boyages also thinks "parity within the conference this year has a lot of fans thinking their teams could do well in the tournament." Schoettle writes the addition of Rutgers and Maryland to the conference next year "is only going to push demand for the tournament higher," which is "good news for ticket brokers." Boyages said that there is currently "no thought to moving the tournament to bigger venues such as Lucas Oil Stadium." But Big Ten officials are "ever eager to take advantage of an economic opportunity," and will "keep a close eye on ticket demand." The United Center will host next season's tournament, but Schoettle wrote, "After 2016, I wouldn't be surprised to see a bidding war for the tournament erupt" (IBJ.com, 3/5).
CHARMED LIFE: In Baltimore, Jeff Barker writes the CAA tournament, which begins tomorrow, provides a "test of whether Baltimore's well-known history and affection for basketball will translate into support for a transitioning conference that had long been oriented toward more southern states." The tournament is "committed to Baltimore for three years," and conference officials said that they "expect to decide after next year's event whether to extend the relationship" beyond '16. Baltimore Arena has "new backboards, a newly refinished floor and a corporate hospitality area in which several hundred sponsors and other VIPs can mingle on a stage overlooking the court." The CAA said that the tournament "was drawing more than 40,000 attendees in its last seasons" in the Richmond Coliseum, and ticket sales "have been running about 15 percent ahead of last year's pace" (Baltimore SUN, 3/6).
THE BIG LEAST? SNY's Jonas Schwartz said the "crickets that you hear emanating around" Madison Square Garden are in anticipation of the Big East men's basketball tournament set to begin next weekend. Schwartz: "Normally, there was a gathering buzz as Syracuse and St. John's and Georgetown all coming in." This first year of the new-look Big East "so far has produced very little." Schwartz: "If it wasn't for Creighton, which has no Big East history, no one would be talking about them at all. So in year one, the Big East has certainly not generated what they wanted to generate in terms of interest and next week at the Garden, I'm wondering how empty it will be" ("Daily News Live," SNY, 3/5).