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Ballin’ on a Budget: The Big Ten Tournament

I have dreamed of working a basketball game at Madison Square Garden since I was six-years-old. Realistically, I had the dream of playing in the garden as well, but even six-year-old me had a proper understanding for my own physical limitations. Either way, I knew from the moment I first entered that historic building that it was the place where dreams were made of.

Growing up in New York, Madison Square Garden was always known as “The Mecca.” The Garden defined everything about New York basketball and it will always be one of the most important sites in sports. The events that have transpired there have been miraculous and incredible.  The aura of it all is enough to give you chills. To me, and many others from the East Coast, Madison Square Garden is the pinnacle.

With that said, nobody from the Midwest should really care.

Over the past decade, the Big Ten’s attempt to expand and grow through the East Coast market has been evident and acknowledged. No move has made that attempt to expand more evident than the conference’s decision to add Maryland and Rutgers to its competitive pool.  Its a move that in its own right has received criticism, but ultimately, it’s a move that was at least understandable.

There is financial logic to expansion and that is not what I’m here to question. Where the logic falters is when that thirst for expansion pushes you to completly alter the way in which you schedule, defy the basic needs of a student athlete, and place a regular season ending tournament a week early in a location that requires 12 out of 14 teams and fan-bases to travel by plane to attend.

The Big Ten Tournament quite clearly should not be held at Madison Square Garden. There was never a justified argument to put it there, and now the basic concept of supply and demand can show you that.

As of February 21st, any individual can now buy a ticket to attend the entirety of the Big Ten Tournament on Stubhub for $155.  In a 13 game tournament, that means an individual can attend every game of the tournament at mere value of $11.90 per game.

In comparison, that is $60 less than the price to attend the entire Big 12 conference tournament, a tournament that only consists of nine games. If you look at the rest of the power five conferences and include the Big East, the Big Ten looks futile.

According to Stubhub:

  • It costs $155 to attend all 13 games of the Big 10 tournament at a rate of $11.90 per game
  • It costs $225 to attend all 13 games of the ACC tournament at a rate of $17.30 per game
  • It costs $215 to attend all nine games of the Big 12 tournament at a rate of $23.89 per game
  • It costs $380 to attend all 11 games of the Pac 12 tournament at a rate of $34.55 per game
  • It costs $374 to attend all 13 games of the SEC tournament at a rate of $28.77 per game
  • It costs $240 to attend all nine games of the Big East tournament at a rate of $26.67 per game

Conference Tournament Prices (Cheapest Seat)

  • Price to Attend Entire Tournament

Conference Tournament Per Game Prices (Cheapest Seat)

  • Price Per Game

The value proposition here is nothing but atrocious. With only a week until the Big Ten tournament, these prices may even continue to plummet as they have over the past week.  It’s a value proposition that doesn’t speak to the competitiveness of the games, rather it speaks directly to the relative location of the fans that would want to watch them.

Most New Yorkers don’t care about Big Ten basketball. That’s not much of a stretch. Before attending Indiana University, I didn’t care about Big Ten basketball. I cared about Big East basketball. I grew up watching Kemba Walker and Johnny Flynn dominate the East Coast and create indescribable moments at “The Mecca.” I grew up how I should have grown up, caring about the teams relative to my location.

This is how the Big Ten works too. The last time the Big Ten tournament was located in the Midwest was in 2016. In 2016, it cost $275 to attend the entire tournament in Indianapolis. That’s $120 more to attend games because the demand was just that much higher. Indiana basketball fans didn’t need to plan a full weekend itinerary to watch their favorite basketball team. Fans just needed to get in a car.

Just compare the Big Ten Tournament to everything else going on at Madison Square Garden. It doesn’t take much investigating to realize what New Yorkers actually care about.

According to Stubhub:

  • It costs $49 to attend the Big Ten Tournament Championship game
  • It costs $80 to attend the Seton Hall vs. St. Johns game
  • It costs $172 to attend the Boston Celtics vs. New York Knicks game
  • It costs $90 to attend the Minnesota Wild vs. New York Rangers game
  • It costs $79 to attend a Billy Joel concert

Upcoming Madison Square Garden Prices (Cheapest Seat)

  • Price of Cheapest Seat

St. Johns is the worst team in the Big East.

The Knicks have seemingly no chance at the NBA playoffs and their best healthy player might be Michael Beasley.

I swear, Billy Joel performs in New York every two weeks.

I’m all for attending basketball games for cheap. As a college student, I’m always “Ballin’ on a budget.” With that said, a dollar value establishes the amount in which people are willing to pay to attend an event. The Big Ten’s weak attempt to replicate the success of the Big East tournament from over a decade ago clearly appears to be falling on its face and a basic dollar sign can tell you that. The Big Ten tournament shouldn’t be in New York and hopefully it never will be again.

I am a senior from Long Island, New York. I’m currently studying Marketing in the Kelley School of Business along with Journalism in The Media School at Indiana University. I want to tell stories and help others tell their own. I want to provide a unique perspective. Most importantly, I want to entertain. The Hoosier Network is the ideal place to do that. Follow me on twitter @EdwardKoton15 Email me at Please, pretty please, venmo me at @EdwardKoton


  • Gabe says:

    This is great. East Coast is trash! Bring it back to the midwest!

  • Nice work. Jim Delany is obviously willing to go where no man goes. The best venue for fans, teams, mascots & cheerleaders is definitely in Indy. The fans have rated it the #1 location to hold the Big Ten Tourney year after year in several metrics. Incredibly that doesn’t seem to matter to Jim.

  • Anonymous says:

    If UConn were in the B10 prices would increase dramatically. MSG is UConn’s second home.

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