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SBD/March 4, 2011/CollegesPrint All
The NCAA because of its opposition to sports gambling will not conduct any of its championship events in Nevada, but three Division I basketball conferences “feel quite differently,” according to a front-page piece by Steve Berkowitz of USA TODAY. The MWC, WCC and WAC will hold their men’s and women’s basketball tournaments in Las Vegas this month, with the WCC and WAC holding their tournaments at an arena that is “part of a casino hotel.” Las Vegas is the “only city currently -- and perhaps ever -- to host six conference basketball tournaments during the same season.” MWC Commissioner Craig Thompson said when his conference took shape in the late '90s, "one of the attractions of (including) UNLV was a potential destination for the basketball tournament." In June '99, “just before the Mountain West began official operation, it announced three-year agreements with the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority to hold its basketball tournaments there and to participate in the Las Vegas Bowl football game, which began in 1992.” Thompson said Las Vegas "is just a magnet for our league." Thompson: “It's really a city that our fans enjoy traveling to." Under Las Vegas Events' contract for the MWC tournament at the Thomas & Mack Center, it “pays the conference a sponsorship/rights fee and covers the costs of the arena and the hotels for players, coaches and school administrators.” Meanwhile, the WCC and WAC tournaments are held at the Orleans Hotel & Casino. The WCC's agreement with the Orleans “prevents the hotel's sports book from listing any WCC tournament games and no alcoholic beverages are sold at the games.” The men's tournament “sold out its reserved seats at the Orleans' 7,973-seat arena” in '09 and '10, and WCC Commissioner Jamie Zaninovich said that the “move has been very helpful to the WCC's pursuit of greater corporate sponsorship” (USA TODAY, 3/4).