SBD/March 7, 2012/Colleges

Pac-12 Leaders Could Vote Saturday To Move Men's Basketball Tourney To Las Vegas

Pac-12 tournament has been played before empty seats at Staples Center
The proposed move of the Pac-12 men’s basketball tournament to Las Vegas “reportedly has the overwhelming support of the Pac-12 athletic directors, and conference presidents are expected to act on the matter Saturday, according to a source cited by Steve Carp of the LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL. If the deal gets done “as anticipated, a news conference is tentatively planned for next week, perhaps as early as Tuesday.” Carp writes if anyone is wondering why the Pac-12 wants to move the tournament from L.A., “just turn on the television this week and look at the sea of empty seats inside the Staples Center.” For the MGM Grand Garden Arena, hosting a basketball tournament “would be a first” as the venue, “which opened in 1993, never has hosted a basketball game.” Capacity for basketball “would be 13,000 to 14,000.” Officials in Salt Lake City, Seattle and several Pac-12 campus sites “also have expressed interest in hosting the tournament, and Los Angeles officials hope to keep the event” (LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL, 3/7). EnergySolutions Arena VP/Events Mark Powell said that he “has not heard from the Pac-12 in more than two weeks, leading him to believe that the conference, despite expressing interest in Utah’s proposal, will go another direction.” In Salt Lake City, Bill Oram notes Las Vegas “already hosts three conference tournaments: the Mountain West at UNLV’s Thomas & Mack Center and the WAC and WCC at the Orleans Arena.” Powell and Utah Sports Commission President & CEO Jeff Robbins both said that “the fact the tournament would have Salt Lake City all to itself appealed to the conference.” Robbins, however, “acknowledged the appeal of moving it to Las Vegas.” Utah head coach Larry Krystkowiak said that he “supported the idea of a Las Vegas tournament, saying a neutral site in a vibrant destination town would have the potential to draw a larger crowd” (SALT LAKE TRIBUNE, 3/7).

REAX: In Seattle, Percy Allen notes it remains to be seen if Las Vegas “could adequately host four tournaments in a short span” (SEATTLE TIMES, 3/7). In Arizona, Greg Hansen writes the league “won't announce the move until next week because … it wouldn't be polite or make good business sense to dump Los Angeles while it is staging this week's tournament.” The lure of Las Vegas “was inevitable.” The MGM Grand “knows how to stage a Big Event, and so far the Pac-10/12 tournament has not had that feel to it.” Arizona head coach Sean Miller yesterday said, "I would like to see (the Pac-12 tournament) in a place that can be more well-attended. For our conference to be in a setting with anything less is not right” (ARIZONA DAILY STAR, 3/7). UCLA head coach Ben Howland said, “Las Vegas is a big draw. There are a lot things to do there other than basketball. If that’s where the Pac-12 ends up going, it will definitely make sense. It’s cheap to get there and the rooms are very reasonable” (L.A. TIMES, 3/7).
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