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SBD/Issue 126/Collegiate SportsPrint All
Saturday's Conference USA Championship
Game At BOK Center Draws Just 8,476 Fans
Tulsa Metro Chamber President & CEO Mike Neal expressed "disappointment in a lack of fan support" for the men's and women's Conference USA basketball tournaments, according to Bill Haisten of the TULSA WORLD. The men's tourney was held at BOK Center, and Saturday's Houston-UTEP championship game drew just 8,476 fans. The three games involving hometown Tulsa Univ. averaged just 8,120 fans. Neal said, "We would really like to have seen 10,000 or 12,000 in here for the TU games." He added, "I'll be quite honest -- from the Tulsa Metro Chamber perspective, we're a little bit disappointed in the crowds. We're a little bit disappointed in the lack of support for this tournament by Tulsans and northeast Oklahomans. The fans didn't step up to the magnitude that we had hoped for. We expected that they would." Haisten noted "fewer than 200 fans" attended Wednesday's semifinals of the women's tournament at Reynolds Center. Conference USA Commissioner Britton Banowsky said that the league "could not yet determine whether the Tulsa-hosted tournament," the first outside Memphis since at least '05, "met or fell short of revenue expectations" (TULSA WORLD, 3/14).
UP ON THE BOARDWALK: In Atlantic City, Susan Lulgjuraj notes the Atlantic 10 men's basketball tournament was "well attended over the weekend despite the crummy weather." The tournament averaged 6,883 fans in four sessions at 10,820-seat Boardwalk Hall, the "best attendance in the tourney's four years" in Atlantic City. Lulgjuraj notes a "new format got much of the credit for the better turnout." The conference in its previous three tournaments in the city "played its entire tournament at Boardwalk Hall over four days." But this year, "first-round games were held on campus sites, with the action shifting" to Atlantic City for the quarterfinals on Friday. Poor weather "put a small damper on the tournament, which was delayed for about 10 minutes Saturday because water from the roof leaked onto the court." But Atlantic City Convention & Visitors Authority Exec Dir Jeffrey Vasser noted ESPN mentioned the delay on "SportsCenter," and said that "any type of publicity was good for the tournament" (ATLANTIC CITY PRESS, 3/15).
TOURNAMENT WRAPUP: The Mountain West Conference "set a record for overall tournament attendance" with 71,945 at Las Vegas' Thomas & Mack Center, "buoyed by the first sellout session in the tournament's 11-year history" for Friday night's semifinals (LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL, 3/14)....The New Mexico State-Utah State WAC championship game on Saturday drew 2,748 fans to 11,536-seat Lawlor Events Center in Reno, while the arena was "barely half full" at 5,897 fans for Friday night's NMSU-Nevada semifinal. The WAC tournament moves to Las Vegas next year (RENO GAZETTE JOURNAL, 3/14)....About 1,000 seats "remained empty in the upper bowl" of Greensboro Coliseum for yesterday's Duke-Georgia Tech ACC Championship game. Filling the arena was "one of the biggest challenges for the tournament," and "good seats were going for about face value" about 20 minutes before yesterday's game (Greensboro NEWS & RECORD, 3/15).
There is a "good chance" that for the second straight year, six of the 16 sites that will host first- and second-round games for the NCAA women's basketball tournament "will not have home teams playing, which could spell a major economic loss for those institutions," according to Doug Feinberg of the AP. In the opening rounds last year, "five of the six sites that did not have host teams playing did not pull in the money they had guaranteed to the NCAA and had to make up the difference." But it was "not just the sites without a host that fell short of their guarantees and had to make up the difference to the NCAA," as 11 total sites "did not reach their goals last year." Some were "more than $40,000 short while others were just a little bit off." The NCAA "worked with this year's hosts to try and help them reach their numbers." NCAA VP/D-I Women's Basketball Sue Donohoe: "It's important for us that our hosts aren't overexposed financially and we aren't overly exposed financially while ensuring that our host and student athletes are given the experience that it needs to be." Feinburg noted some schools that lost money last season "tried to recoup those losses from the NCAA, but were turned down." The NCAA this year "added a teleconference with the universities to talk about the bid specifications so that the institutions would not be under budget and be left with a shortfall" (AP, 3/13).
NO LOVE IN SAC TOWN: The women's West Regional will be held at Arco Arena on March 27 and 29 and in Sacramento, John Schumacher reports local officials are "hoping to come close to filling half of Arco's 17,317 seats" for the two sessions. Pacific Univ. Supervisor of Facilities & Events Jeff Bolognini, whose school is hosting the regional, said, "Even though it's a regional, it's a challenge to get people to buy into it and support it." He added, "If we get Stanford, it would be a huge help. It's a local team. It's the No. 2 team in the country. I think everybody would be lying if they weren't hoping Stanford makes it here. If we get 7,000 or 8,000, I think we'd be thrilled." Sacramento Sports Commission Exec Dir John McCasey noted the men's tournament games "sell out overnight; it's just boom," while the women's tournament is "more of a challenge" (SACRAMENTO BEE, 3/15).