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Volume 21 No. 42
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Cities eager to book an NCAA date

Vegas, Reno ready to bid on championship events that were previously restricted

Las Vegas and Reno, Nev., are quickly stepping up efforts to attract NCAA tournaments and events after the collegiate governing body lifted longtime restrictions on staging events in the state over the presence of legalized sports betting.

“The NCAA policy in the past didn’t give us a shot. Now we have a great shot at those,” said Paul Anderson, executive director of Nevada’s Office of Economic Development.

Before the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in May allowing sports betting in any state, Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval established the Southern Nevada Sporting Event Committee. The panel is charged with finding the best structure and potential revenue sources to recruit and host events.

“We’ll look at those cities that already host a lot of these events and try to learn how they do it. There’s no sense in recreating the wheel,” said Anderson, who serves on the panel.

Rossi Ralenkotter, CEO of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, notes that Vegas already hosts plenty of events including college basketball tournaments for the Pac-12, Mountain West, West Coast and Western Athletic conferences. He said booking new events will have to mesh with Vegas’ already busy convention and trade show schedule. “We have to fill 150,000 hotel rooms every day,” he said.

Reno and neighboring Lake Tahoe, Calif., are also making a push for more college sports events, said Ann Silver, CEO of the Reno + Sparks Chamber of Commerce. Reno is expanding its convention center and is known as a hub for cycling as host of Interbike, the industry’s largest trade show.

UNLV Athletic Director Desiree Reed-Francois said her school is primed to bid on NCAA events including track, basketball and golf. She also would like to see NCAA wrestling championships come to Vegas even though UNLV doesn’t have the sport. “We think Las Vegas would be a wonderful destination for wrestling,” she said.