The Big Ten Tournament has been the biggest event of the conference's basketball season since its inaugural season in 1998. However, the event has been relocated several times and appears to be on the move again. According to a report from Sports Illustrated, the event will be moving to New York.
This certainly is not a surprising report. It is well known that the Big Ten has been looking at "non-traditional" sites for the tournament in the coming years and this one certainly makes sense. The Big Ten is already moving the 2017 Big Ten Tournament to Washington, D.C. and were reportedly considering other locations like Detroit, Minneapolis, and Omaha for the following seasons.
Ultimately, it appears that they went with a location near conference newcomer Rutgers. The Scarlet Knights are located in nearby New Jersey and will likely feel almost at home in a short trip to New York. The Washington, D.C. location was clearly a move for Maryland and this one would follow suit.
There are a few other advantages to this move besides "welcoming" Rutgers to the conference. First, New York is a major market and the Big Ten is looking to plant its feet there. The conference recently opened up an office in the city and adding a tournament there would only further its role in the nation's biggest city. The other advantage is that many Big Ten schools have a plethora of alumni in the city. They should have no problem selling tickets.
Of course, there are also some issues with this move. Locating the conference in New York not only seems out of line with the majority of Big Ten programs, but it is going to place a major burden on some fans who want to travel for the event. Look at programs like Iowa, Minnesota, and Nebraska, who would have incredible distances to travel. According to Google Maps, Lincoln (NE) is located 1,294 miles away from Washington, D.C. To put that into perspective, it is a shorter trip to drive from Lincoln to Las Vegas (NV) and just about 200 miles further to drive to Los Angeles (CA). Let that sink in. Las Vegas would be a closer location than New York for a conference team. Clearly, that is a huge advantage to the eastern teams.
Many of the programs located in the Big Ten West have great fanbases, but forcing programs to travel nearly 1,300 miles for a conference tournament seems inherently unfair. Along with that, it seems even more unfair for Nebraska specifically, who was never granted a quasi-home conference tournament like Maryland and Rutgers received in 2017 and 2018 respectively. Even if the Big Apple is an exciting location, there are some unfortunate effects of locating a tournament for a Midwestern conference in such an eastern location.
Regardless of whether it is fair or not, it does appear that the conference tournament will continue to relocate and with the Big Ten's desire for the New York market, it seems likely that New York remains in the rotation permanently.