This week's news that Coaches vs. Cancer is moving from Madison Square Garden to the Barclays Center in 2012 was a bit overshadowed by an accompanying announcement that the tourney would also be changing TV partners to Turner Sports. It was however the first big sports booking for the Brooklyn arena and is likely to be the first of many. Although the announcement was low-key, everyone in New York sports knows college basketball is a big draw for the Garden and losing the event has to hurt.
"We have a number of college basketball announcements upcoming," volunteered an insider. One is likely to the official announcement of the Kentucky-Maryland game that will reportedly be the first college game at the arena. Others would likely include big and small schools, perhaps a local school or two.
Bottom line: Coaches vs. Cancer is intended to show that the Garden is vulnerable to the threat posed by Barclays. And it won't end with college hoops. The Nets can be expected to make a big push to stage the 2014 NBA All-Star Game in Brooklyn rather than Manhattan. The arena will be ready for the 2013 game, but that's already booked for Houston. The competition of course will be the Knicks and their renovated (excuse us, "transformed") Garden.
The two arenas have been quite competitive. After the Nets successfully went after Knick officials two years back, the empire struck back and hired away two Barclays Center executives in the past year, first Alex Diaz went from general manager of Barclays Center to senior vice president and general manager of facilities operations, which include Madison Square Garden and the Theater at MSG. Word is that the greater responsibility wooed him. Last month, another Barclays exec involved in sponsorships defected. Expect more competition across the board.