Big Ten Football Title Game Staying In Indy, Despite Delany's Eastward Expansion
Even amid its "eastward expansion, the Big Ten won't be leaving Indianapolis any time soon," as the conference on Thursday announced that its football championship game "will remain at Lucas Oil Stadium" through '21, according to Zach Osterman of the INDIANAPOLIS STAR. The men's basketball tournament also "will be returning to Bankers Life Fieldhouse" in '20 and '22. The Big Ten held both the men's and women's basketball tournaments at Bankers Life from '08-12, and has held its football championship game at Lucas Oil Stadium since '11. Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany said, "We have choices. We're fortunate that we live in two regions, with great facilities in great cities." He added, "In building a game and building a brand, consistency -- especially in the early foundational years -- is very important to us. We're not trying to put the football game in a unique environment. We're looking at putting a football game in a football stadium where the variables are controlled, so the experience is consistent." Indiana Sports Corp. BOD Chair Scott Dorsey called the news a "blockbuster announcement" for the city. Dorsey: "It allows us to think about more than the game. It allows us to think about how we can make this a community event" (INDIANAPOLIS STAR, 6/6).
GARDEN PARTY? In Chicago, Teddy Greenstein writes '18 is the "year of intrigue" for the Big Ten men's basketball tournament. Sources said that Delany "has targeted" Madison Square Garden and that he "met with MSG officials Wednesday." But Delany called it "premature" to speculate about a deal with MSG. He added, “We’ll make a decision (on 2018) in a couple of weeks, not any shorter.” But Greenstein writes moving the tournament to MSG would be a "huge coup" for the Big Ten. The venue "has a long-term deal to host the Big East tournament, so one of the conferences -- likely the Big Ten -- would have to be flexible in its dates." Delany is "said to be bullish" on the MSG prospects, but he will "need to persuade Big Ten presidents and chancellors to green-light the expensive proposition" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 6/6).
HOME IS WHERE THE HEART IS: ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg wrote the Big Ten on Thursday "let its core fans know it hasn't forgotten about them." No initiative -- "other than bringing in Maryland and Rutgers -- sparked more reaction" than the league's announcement that the '17 men's basketball tournament would be held at Verizon Center in DC. Since its inception in '98, the tournament "had been held only in two Big Ten strongholds: Chicago and Indianapolis." Rittenberg: "Bottom line: The football title game isn't leaving the Midwest any time soon, which makes sense with only two teams involved and often little time to plan." But Big Ten basketball fans should "prepare for other tournaments outside the traditional footprint," as it is an "easier event to move, because all 14 teams and fan bases are involved." Thursday's announcement "signifies that the Big Ten still knows where its bread is buttered" (ESPN.com, 6/5).