NCAA Men's Basketball

Swofford: ACC mulls playing at MSG, Barclays

05/16 1:24 PM

The ACC is "thoroughly investigating" playing its men's basketball tournament at Madison Square Garden, sources told ESPN on Tuesday.

AMELIA ISLAND, Fla. -- ACC commissioner John Swofford said Thursday the league is interested in playing men's basketball tournaments at Madison Square Garden and The Barclays, if the venues were available.

"We'll have to wait and see on that," Swofford said. "We really don't have all the information yet as far as future opportunities. We don't want to prematurely make a decision without having a full scope of information we want to have."

Sources on Wednesday said the conference is "thoroughly investigating" playing its tournament at the Garden, with one source adamant that it eventually would be held in the World's Most Famous Arena, which would take it out of traditional ACC country for the first time.

"We'll be playing there," a source said. "It's just a matter of getting all the legal ramifications worked out."

That's because in March, the new Big East Conference and Madison Square Garden announced a 12-year deal through 2026. However, MSG executive vice president Joel Fisher was noncommittal about the ACC playing there.

"I don't want to speculate about (the ACC)," Fisher said in March.

Sources said MSG can get out of its deal before 2026 if the new Big East doesn't reach certain benchmarks. That would open the door for the ACC, which is holding its spring meetings in Amelia Island.

Besides Madison Square Garden, the ACC also has had discussions with the Barclays Center about holding its tournament in Brooklyn, a source said.

"There is real momentum to play the tournament at Madison Square Garden," a source said. "Why shouldn't the premier basketball conference play in the world's premier arena?"

Sources attending the meetings said the ACC should always look at ways to improve its product.

"No matter what business model you're in, if you're the best -- and our league is the best -- you should take it to New York," a source said.

The 2014 and '15 ACC men's basketball tournaments will be held in Greensboro, N.C., but no decision has been reached beyond that. The tournament has been played every year since 1954, but only 11 times has it moved outside the state of North Carolina, and it hasn't been farther north than Maryland and Washington, D.C. The tournament has also been held in Georgia and Florida.

Pittsburgh coach Jamie Dixon told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on Wednesday that he thinks "it would be difficult to overcome the tournament's Tobacco Road roots" and move the tournament, despite the fact he and Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim are among the proponents.

Pittsburgh and Syracuse are two of what will be seven former Big East schools in the 15-team ACC by 2014, along with Miami (Fla.), Virginia Tech, Boston College, Notre Dame and Louisville.

"I think (Madison Square Garden) would be the best thing for the conference," Dixon told the Post-Gazette. "I hope that's the way they're headed, but I don't know that it is."

The official deadline to bid for the 2016-21 ACC men's basketball tournaments was last September. Madison Square Garden did not submit a bid but still would be allowed to pursue future tournaments, a source said.

A decision is not expected for the 2016-21 ACC tournament sites when the ACC spring meetings conclude Thursday.

Since 1983, Madison Square Garden has hosted the Big East men's tournament. However, the former Big East schools are not the only ones within the league pushing for the ACC to play at Madison Square Garden, sources said.

Information from ESPN.com's Andy Katz was used in this report.


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