Ticket Demand for “New” Big East Basketball Tournament

When Syracuse and Pittsburgh declared their intention to head to the ACC a couple of years ago, many people wondered how Big East basketball would survive as a pathway to March Madness. Without the intense, bruising play of Pitt and the signature zone defense of Syracuse, the college team most closely associated with New York City and the hallowed halls of Madison Square Garden, what would become of the conference long heralded as the head of the college basketball class? Although the conference itself was stripped down, losing football and other Big East success stories like UConn and Louisville, it was saved as a basketball league by traditional holdovers like No. 3 Villanova, Georgetown, and St. John’s, and the addition of new programs including Xavier and No. 14 Creighton. The conference has lived on and is returning once more to the site of decades of Big East memories: MSG in NYC.

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Despite the presence of two top 15 teams on the schedule, ticket demand for the “new” Big East tournament isn’t living up to old expectations. In this first year of the “new” Big East, the average ticket price of a full strip (includes a ticket to each session) is down 20% from last year’s tourney, falling from $683 to $540. In a departure from the norm of prior years, none of the sessions for this year’s tournament are sold out. The departure of schools like Syracuse, UConn, Notre Dame and Pittsburgh, all of which brought in large fan bases from the NYC area, has been the root cause of the drop in demand. 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.

Big East Basketball Tournament Tickets

Big East Tournament Average Ticket Prices

With the departure of former fixtures like Pitt and Syracuse, the new Big East basketball tournament is seeing lower ticket demand in NYC.

The average ticket price on the secondary market for the quarterfinal, semifinal and championship sessions have all fallen considerably year-over-year. The quarterfinals (taking an average for both sessions) are down 37% from $194 last year to $123 this year; the semifinal session is down 32% from $195 to $132; and the championship game is down a whopping 48% from $266 to $138. The get-in price has also fallen for each session, and it’s particularly noticeable for the semifinal doubleheader on Friday night. Tickets start at just $67 on the resale market this year, whereas last year, the cheapest seats purchased for the same session – which featured matchups of Syracuse vs. Georgetown and Notre Dame vs. Louisville, with only the Hoyas in the conference this year – went for nearly double that at $125 each.

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