The bright lights of MSG are beaming with Big East pride and nostalgia this week. With Championship Week here – and with big changes in the Big East over the last year – we’re ready to watch as the teams from one of the toughest basketball conferences in the country battle it out for the title. Where are you going to watch? These are our favorite NYC basketball bars for Big East action.
132 West 31st Street
New York, NY
This upscale gastropub near MSG offers $1 select oysters during happy hour, Monday through Friday 5 p.m. – 7 p.m. Penn 6 has become a pre- and post-game destination for sports fans and foodies alike. Its proximity to the Garden, along with walls lined with flat screen televisions, make the dining destination a sports bar. But as Penn 6’s manager told the Wall Street Journal, “you can still have a nice, sophisticated meal with oysters and champagne.” The ambiance and stepped-up menu (Duck Lyonnaise, anyone?) take the atmosphere up a notch.
Just steps from the Garden, this Irish pub goes all out for the Big East Tournament. Behind the bar you’ll find posters representing each of the teams still competing. Watch the games on their giant flatscreens, peruse the impressive beer selection and make sure to mingle — you’ll likely meet alumni and fans from your Alma mater.
The Pourhouse may have a reputation as a hangout for post-grads and former frat boys, but it’s a sports fan’s haven with its array of widescreens and solid beer selection. What’s more, ‘Cuse fans gather here to cheer on the Orange. Although Syracuse left the Big East for the ACC, Syracuse alums and basketball fans alike are sure to gather here for the tourny.
1009 Second Ave.
New York, NY 10022
With this selection we pay homage to Dave Gavitt, a founding member and the first commissioner of the Big East. Gavitt was a coach and athletic director at Providence College, forming the basketball-focused conference in Rhode Island’s capital city. Session House serves as PC’s alumni bar for Big Apple Friars, and while the heyday of Providence basketball may be behind us, the East side pub hosts game watches all season long for fans of the entire Big East conference.
Another Irish hangout in the MSG neighborhood, this old-school bar still has the requisite pinch of grit lacking in so many of its Midtown neighbors. The walls are adorned with memorabilia from every Big East team. While it’s lacking the swanky, dimly lit ambiance of Stout and other date-worthy sports bars, this is an ideal pick for a fan who wishes to watch the tournament without judgement.
Bar 515 has successfully merged the needs of the die-hard sports crowd with that of the casual fan — so even if the term “conference realignment” means nothing to your friends, everyone still has fun here. Its front bar offers panoramic plasma views while the back bar is a combo of sports and spa with a waterfall area available to calm the nerves of fanatics. Plasma TV screens line the walls of this well-known neighborhood haunt, where a more upscale menu is the draw for the popular Eastside sports spot. Unique food choices include: burgers marinated in Irish stout, Tzatziki, feta and roasted pepper dip as well as mini Buffalo chicken sliders.