The Torch

The Future of St. John’s at Madison Square Garden

Concerns from fans have grown about the Red Storm's MSG presence.

Torch Photo/Nick Bello

Torch Photo/Nick Bello

Nick Bello, Assistant Photo Editor

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It’s a late Saturday afternoon as Chris Mullin, head coach of the St. John’s basketball team, strolls into the media room at Madison Square Garden.

His team has just lost in overtime to Big East rival Seton Hall in front of a packed crowd at the arena.

What’s better than traveling to Midtown Manhattan and playing basketball at the World’s Most Famous Arena on a weekend? Mullin asks himself the question, then smiles as he tries to formulate an answer.

The game was one of five regular season matches that the Red Storm played at Madison Square Garden this season. St. John’s, who plays the majority of its home games at Carnesecca Arena on campus, has played at the Garden since 1931.

In some years, the Red Storm have played a good portion of their games at the Garden. In the 1950-51 season, the team played 19 games there.

In recent years, the most games St. John’s has played at the Garden was 10 in the 2010-11 season.

With the Red Storm playing just five of its 16 home games at Madison Square Garden this season, fans have expressed their concerns about future games there.

Many of the complaints come as a result of a Red Storm team that has failed to produce like it has in the past.

This year the Red Storm finished with a 2-3 record at the Garden, the losses coming from big-name conference opponents like Georgetown, Villanova and Seton Hall.

These three games were closely contested, drawing over 45,000 combined attendees who were not disappointed with the quality of basketball they got to witness.

Strong crowds for the games at the Garden shouldn’t worry fans. At this year’s highly-profiled matchup between St. John’s and then No. 4 Duke, a game in which the RedStorm upset the Blue Devils, nearly 20,000 fans watched as St. John’s walked away with a four-point victory.

These worries from fans are also partly due to misinformation about the process which St. John’s uses to obtain these games.

“MSG games are scheduled on a year to year basis,” St. John’s Athletic Director Anton Goff said in a statement to The Torch. “It is a combination of who we play and the availability of the Garden.”

With the Garden hosting numerous other college games this season, as well as being the home arena for both the New York Knicks and the New York Rangers, the scheduling process was difficult.

The day St. John’s played Seton Hall, the Knicks also had a game against the Boston Celtics five hours after the players walked off the court.

For years, the Garden has been a part of the culture at St. John’s.

It plays a big factor in recruiting players, many of whom come to St. John’s dreaming of playing at one of the biggest arenas in all of sports.

For fans, the experience is one of the best in college basketball. Thousands flock from all over the country to witness a Red Storm basketball game at Madison Square Garden, where renovations finished in 2013.

This gives the Red Storm a major advantage over their opponent, one that Mullin knows all too well.

When asked about the Garden crowd after the loss to Seton Hall, Mullin stated his love for the arena.

“It was a great crowd and I wish we would have given [the crowd] a little more to cheer about,” he said. “I don’t know what else you’d rather do on a Saturday afternoon than play at Madison Square Garden. I can’t think of anything in the world.”

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The Future of St. John’s at Madison Square Garden