Pac-12 Already Reaping Benefits Of Moving Conference Tournament To Las Vegas
The decision to move the Pac-12 men’s basketball tournament to Las Vegas was "a bold one, but it appears as if league officials knew what they were doing," according to Steve Carp of the LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL. Advance ticket sales for the tournament, which begins today at the MGM Grand Garden, "are up substantially from a year ago when the event was at Staples Center" in L.A. The bottom bowl of the Grand Garden is "sold out for all four sessions, and Friday’s semifinals and Saturday’s title game are expected to sell out entirely." Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott said, "We anticipated people would be excited about coming to Las Vegas. The conference has had a lot of additional exposure with the launch of our own network and also the games we’ve had on ESPN." Carp notes it is the "first time a college basketball tournament has been on a Strip property, but Scott isn’t worried over safety for players, coaches or fans" (LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL, 3/13). In L.A., Chris Dufresne writes this year's Pac-12 Tournament "means that center court for amateur basketball has shifted west" as the conference becomes the fourth league to "contest its tournament in Las Vegas." The "drift from New York's heart-and-soul to Nevada's soulless Strip underscores and overscores the recent level of drivel dribbling out of NCAA headquarters." Las Vegas has "never been allowed a sniff of an actual NCAA tournament game, and axis-of-evil Nevada is prohibited from hosting an NCAA championship event in any sport." Staging four tournaments "within a week of NCAA Selection Sunday, well, that's somebody else's problem." Scott said, "When we were doing due diligence about where we were going to move the tournament, we checked with them. I talked with commissioners from the other conferences to see what their experiences were like. Everyone has been very happy with it" (L.A. TIMES, 3/13).
CAROLINA IN MY MIND: Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said he would "like to see" the ACC Tournament "always be in Greensboro." He said, "They put their arms around all the teams. ... They set up an atmosphere there that’s Final Four-ish." In Greensboro, David Morrison notes the tournament is "coming to the Greensboro Coliseum for the 24th time in its 60-year history this week and will be played in Greensboro the next two years as well." But with Pittsburgh, Syracuse, Notre Dame and Louisville "soon to join the league, the thought of moving the tournament’s base has gained support." Greensboro is one of the "five sites being considered for the 2016-2021 round of ACC tournaments," along with Charlotte, Tampa, DC and a bid from Atlanta that involves Philips Arena (Greensboro NEWS & RECORD, 3/13).
BIG LEAST? The final edition of the Big East Tournament got underway at MSG yesterday, and in N.Y., Zach Schonbrun writes with the conference’s "bottom four seeds in action ... the Garden initially lacked the energy and intensity from the fans and players that became its staple over 34 years." Those moments will "undoubtedly come, as the weeklong celebration of the final Big East tournament ... unfolds" (N.Y. TIMES, 3/13).
SHOW ME MISSOURI: In K.C., Blair Kerkhoff writes a Sprint Center sellout is "expected for the Big 12, but a year ago the sellout sign went up a week before the tournament." As of last night, tickets were "still available for this year’s games despite several reasons for high fan interest in the region." The "biggest change" to this year's tournament is the lineup, as Missouri is "absent" after moving to the SEC. No Missouri means "one less school that would have snapped up its conference allotment of 1,100 tickets" (K.C. STAR, 3/13).