SBD/March 14, 2012/Colleges

Pac-12's Larry Scott Said Keeping Men's Tourney In L.A. "Didn't Make Sense Financially"

Scott announced the MGM Grand Garden Arena will host the men's tourney through '15
The Pac-12 men’s basketball tournament will be played in Las Vegas for the next three years and Commissioner Larry Scott said that “it didn't make sense financially to maintain the status quo at the 19,000-seat Staples Center” in L.A., according to Steve Carp of the LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL. MGM Grand Garden Arena will host the men's Pac-12 tournament “starting next March and continuing through 2015” and is “expected to hold 13,000 to 14,000" for the event.” The tournament has been played in L.A. since ’02 “and attendance has declined in each of the last four years.” Las Vegas Events President Pat Christenson said that the opportunity to bring a major conference to town “was too good an opportunity to pass up.” The Mountain West Conference has been holding its tournament at the Thomas & Mack Center “for the past six years.” The West Coast Conference “just wrapped up its fourth consecutive year at Orleans Arena, and the Western Athletic Conference just finished its second year at the Orleans.” But Carp writes the Pac-12 “has something no other conference can claim -- its tournament is being held on the Strip, where fans want to congregate and take advantage of the entertainment, dining, shopping and gambling options that are within walking distance of the MGM Grand.” The fact that the venue “is segregated from the casino, specifically the sports book, made it much easier for Scott to sell his presidents on Las Vegas.” Scott said, "Once we walked through the facility and saw we could take our student-athletes through the back entrance and not expose them to the casino, it definitely made it easier to convince some of our membership" (LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL, 3/14).

WIN-WIN SITUATION: In Las Vegas, Ray Brewer reported the Pac-12 yesterday hosted a media event “at the MGM’s Wet Republic pool -- complete with a portable basketball hoop on the pool deck and several of the league’s official basketballs floating in the pool.” Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority President & CEO Rossi Ralenkotter estimates “50,000 basketball fans will be in Southern Nevada next March for the four tournaments.” He indicated that they will “bring in $27 million of non-gaming revenue” (, 3/13). Scott said that the move, “combined with moving the women's tournament to Seattle, will generate buzz and create atmosphere for the conference's fans.” The AP’s Oskar Garcia reported all the tournament's games “will be televised under a 12-year deal with ESPN, Fox and the newly created Pac-12 Network.” Scott said that ESPN “would air three tournament games, including the championship, next year” (AP, 3/13).
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