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Madison Square Garden an option for ACC Tournament?

Michael Heiman

Last week, we discussed the possibility of the ACC Tournament potentially heading north for a year or two. The Barclays were the discussed option since Madison Square Garden is committed to the Big East. However, there appears to be some wiggle room for the venue to get out of its deal with the league.

Buried at the bottom of an article about basketball-only schools potentially leaving the league (and I encourage you to read the entire thing - it's good stuff by Andy Katz and Brett McMurphy) was this nugget:

Meanwhile, a source with knowledge of the Big East's deal with Madison Square Garden told that MSG is "covered" and can get out of the contract if the league continues to change its membership.

That makes sense, but, of course, the key is the true definition of 'continues to change its membership.' Does that mean that one new member or defection would void the deal? I find it hard to believe the Big East would agree to those specific terms since the league's membership seems to be changing by the day. So the question I have is how much change is necessary to get MSG off the hook?

And there's also the little issue that the Garden (or the Barclays, for that matter) didn't even submit a bid for the tournament. I'm not sure of the legality of the conference declaring the 2016-2021 again open for business. Venues who have already submitted bids would be irked, of course, and depending on the language used in a document such as a Request for Proposal/Bid, the league may not be able to accept additional bids for those years.

Who knows why MSG didn't submit a bid for the event. In the comments section of the Barclays post, there was discussion that New York simply isn't interested in the ACC. While the preference may have been for the old Big East, I'm not sure that stance can't change. The Barclays hitched its wagon to the A-10 (likely because they'd rather have them tied in for several years than the chance to win the ACC bid for a year or two), but I can't imagine that MSG would rather have no basketball than ACC basketball - and with the direction the Big East is headed, it's possible that the league could even fold before the ACC Tournament's deal with Greensboro for the next three years expires.

I can't speak specifically to the interest on either side about wanting to move the tournament there, but on the surface, I'm not convinced the ACC would ever move the event permanently north. If they did, though, Madison Square Garden is clearly the premier venue.

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