SBD/March 18, 2013/Colleges

Pac-12 Execs "Incredibly Pleased" With Conference Tourney's First Year In Las Vegas

The attendance figures for this year's Pac-12 men's basketball tournament at Las Vegas' MGM Grand Garden Arena show the event is "off to a great start in its new home," according to Zack Rosenblatt of Univ. of Arizona student newspaper the DAILY WILDCAT. Over the course of six separate sessions, which included 11 games in four days, there was an average attendance of 10,625, almost 2,000 more than last year, when the tourney was held at Staples Center. The "most attended session on Friday had 13,151 and the championship game saw 11,101 fans." The Oregon-UCLA championship game was the "only game that had less than last year’s," when the Colorado-Arizona final drew 11,197 fans. Staples Center has a "capacity of 19,060, while MGM had one of 13,000 for the tournament." The Pac-12 is "on a three-year deal with MGM Grand, and if this year’s tournament is any indication, it should be here for years to come." Pac-12 CMO Danette Leighton said, “We were incredibly pleased with our first year in Las Vegas. I think it was a great first impression for our new tournament here in Las Vegas. Our fans came and traveled and I think they had a great time" (ARIZONA DAILY WILDCAT, 3/18). Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott said, "It's fair to say Year One has exceeded our expectations in many respects. I think there's a lot of potential for this to go beyond three years" (LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL, 3/17). Scott added, "This is the kind of atmosphere that we envisioned and hoped for when we thought about moving the tournament from Los Angeles. This was the objective, the kinds of crowds, the dynamic atmosphere that we've witnessed. That was our top priority." In Seattle, Percy Allen noted there are "no plans to extend the conference's deal with the MGM that expires in 2015." However, Scott "expressed interest in moving the tourney to the MGM's proposed 20,000-seat arena in Las Vegas" (SEATTLE TIMES, 3/16).

BIG NUMBERS AROUND THE COUNTRY: The Big Ten tournament drew a total paid attendance of 124,543 over four days at United Center, breaking the league's total attendance record of 109,769 set back in '01. Big Ten Assistant Commissioner Scott Chipman in an e-mail said the league's tournament at the United Center in Chicago this year sold out all six sessions in advance for the first time in tournament history (THE DAILY). Meanwhile, the Kansas-Kansas State Big 12 tournament title game Saturday at the Sprint Center was played before a crowd of 19,256. That "broke the single-session record of 19,160 set during Friday's semifinals." The finals crowd also was a "record for a sporting event at the Sprint Center, breaking the previous record set Friday" (K.C. STAR, 3/17).

SEC ON THE MOVE AGAIN? In St. Louis, Vahe Gregorian noted days after an SEC "contingent made a site visit to Scottrade Center during the Missouri Valley tournament," St. Louis Sports Commission President Frank Viverito was "in Nashville as part of the Sports Commission's bid to land the SEC tourney in 2017 or 2018." St. Louis is "one of three cities the league office has been authorized by conference presidents to negotiate with." Other applicants for a tournament that has "been played in six states through the years are Atlanta, Memphis, New Orleans, Nashville, Orlando and Tampa." Atlanta will host in '14, and Nashville is set for '15, '16 and '19. The decision on '17 and '18 "is expected in the spring." While St. Louis is "on the western edge of the SEC's footprint, it also is an accessible drive for many of the league's members even beyond Mizzou." The SEC tournament schedule "would not conflict with the highly successful" Missouri Valley Conference tournament" (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 3/16).
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