About a month ago, SB Nation's Pitt Panthers blog Cardiac Hill wrote an article about how the ACC's failure to strike a deal with Madison Square Garden to host the conference's basketball tournament was a failure of the conference's leadership.
We're the new kids here, but I'm completely comfortable calling this a failure of leadership at the ACC and John Swofford. If the plan was to kill the Big East - and I've always been convinced that's the conference's long-term goal - then this is a disaster. The ACC's biggest competitor can now solidify its perilous claim of the New York with a premier event in the Mecca of college basketball. It also now has enormous leverage in its financial negotiations with The MSG Company now that there's no competition for the venue. Not the best strategy if the goal is to financially starve a nearby rival.
At the time, this didn't sit well with me. Not because Pitt is the new kids around here and not because I wouldn't like to see the conference's basketball tournament held in New York (and not in Greensboro). Rather, because I didn't really think that the ACC's goal was to:
1) kill the Big East Tournament specifically (poaching three of the conference's top five basketball programs probably does the trick anyway), and
2) set up the conference's basketball tournament permanently in one location.
As it turns out, Madison Square Garden didn't bid on the ACC Tournament precisely because of that second point.
ACC commissioner John Swofford told ESPN.com that the reason the ACC and Madison Square Garden didn't get a deal was that MSG wanted a regular tenant every March and the ACC wasn't willing to commit to a set location. The Big East Conference and Madison Square Garden announced on Wednesday a multiyear extension to keep the Big East conference tournament in New York.
Swofford added that he was open to taking the ACC Tournament to the Brooklyn Nets' new home down Atlantic Avenue. Boston College coach Steve Donahue added that he'd love to see the tournament moved to the Northeast, if only for a season.
Don't get me wrong. The Big East Tournament remains one of the few things I miss about Boston College's time in the conference. It's a fantastic event played in a great arena in the media capital of the country. I understand wanting to hold onto something like that as a Pitt or Syracuse fan. But at the same time, I just can't see the ACC Tournament putting roots down in New York City permanently. There is so much about the conference that is the antithesis of NYC that the resulting product would likely seem forced. Plus the conference displacing the Big East at the Garden seems over-the-top spiteful and unnecessary.
That said, I hope the conference doesn't completely rule out the possibility of playing the event every few years in New York (Barclays Center) or New Jersey (Prudential Center). As an idea, one year you could hold the event at two different arenas in the same metro area and move the event back to a four-day affair. I will agree with Cardiac Hill that the event has to be moved out of Greensboro as soon as possible and the event shouldn't look back. With the recent additions of Syracuse, Pittsburgh and Notre Dame, the conference's ambitions seemingly have outgrown the Greensboro Coliseum.
Put the event in a major city and rotate between Boston / New York, Baltimore / Washington D.C., Charlotte and Atlanta. Rinse. Wash. Repeat.