The Big East Conference is betting on the Big Apple to help usher in a new era.
The reconfigured conference has chosen The Durst Organization’s 655 Third Avenue in Midtown as its official headquarters after cutting a 10-year, 13,742-square-foot lease across the seventh floor of the 30-story property.
The Big East has played its annual basketball tournament at Madison Square Garden since 1983. Its new commissioner, Val Ackerman, said in a written statement that the conference has “thrived off [the] decades long connection” and that the new headquarters will “serve as the ideal location to build on the many commercial, business and media connections” the city offers.
Today’s 10-team Big East Conference consists of the so-called “Catholic Seven” members of the original Big East Conference (1979–2013) – DePaul, Georgetown, Marquette, Providence College, Seton Hall, St. John’s, and Villanova – and Butler, Creighton and Xavier, who joined with its July 2013 relaunch after a conference reconfiguration.
Four storied members of the original Big East are gone. Connecticut, this year’s NCAA champions in both men’s and women’s basketball, left for the new American Athletic Conference, and Syracuse, Pittsburgh and Notre Dame joined the Atlantic Coast Conference.
The new Big East’s presidents made a “strategic decision to situate our conference headquarters in New York City, and we are very excited that our search landed us prime space in Midtown Manhattan,” said Ms. Ackerman, who was previously president of USA Basketball and was a founding president of the WNBA.
She became the Big East’s fifth Commissioner in June of 2013, several months after the “Catholic Seven” reached an agreement that enabled them to keep the Big East name and assume the old conference’s long-term agreement with MSG.
The Big East was previously headquartered in Providence, Rhode Island before moving to a temporary Times Square office in 2013. The conference is expected to move into the new office space, which will be newly renovated and serve as the principal offices for staff and visiting administrative officials, in the late summer.
Jeffrey Rosenblatt and Bill Harvey of Newmark Grubb Knight Frank represented the Big East, while Karen Kuznick represented The Durst Organization in-house. A Durst spokesperson said asking rents were $54 per square foot.