BY SPNW Staff 08:00PM 03/06/2012

Pac-12 set to move hoops tourney to Vegas

Three other Western conferences have their post-season tournaments in Las Vegas, so the Pac-12, unhappy with attendance in Los Angeles, will join them starting next year.

Washington coach Lorenzo Romar isn't complaining about the move of the Pac-12 tourney, because he knows his hometown hasn't warmed to the gig. / Drew Sellers, Sportspress Northwest file

Faced with dwindling attendance in Los Angeles, as well as the dissolution of much of their TV relationship with Fox Sports, Pac-12 Conference athletic directors have made a deal to move their men’s basketball tourney to Las Vegas and a building that has never hosted basketball.

The deal awaits only a vote of university presidents gathered for the tourney Saturday, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

Seattle and Salt Lake City, which have member schools, lost out in the bid process. They were believed to be, besides Los Angeles, the only cities to bid.

Ralph Morton, president of the Seattle Sports Commission, said the Pac-12 solicited bids for the men’s and women’s hoop tourneys last summer. The commission delivered a full proposal for the men’s tourney at KeyArena.

“We thought it was a good offer for both sides,” Morton said. “We’re within driving distance of four member schools and felt we had a lot to offer. We haven’t heard anything official, but with the end of the contract with Fox Sports, the league decided to take the event in-house and see what they could do to grow it into  a premier event.

“We just successfully hosted the Pac-12 swim championships at Federal Way, and we’ll seek to host more Pac-12 championships. ”

The tourney always seemed dwarfed in LA and the cavernous Staples Center, home to the NBA Lakers and Clippers and NHL Kings. Previous proposals at rotating the event among member schools never gained traction. A big obstacle to a move was the Fox Sports contract, which for years televised many regular-season games as well as the tournament. Fox has its own studio in Staples.

But with the start of the Pac-12 Network in the fall and the expiration of the Fox deal, Commissioner Larry Scott continued to push his agenda of relentlessly marketing the league’s assets.

The deal, which has not been announced, reportedly will be for the next two years, with an option for 2015.

Las Vegas has no Pac-12 membership, but the city already hosts the post-season tourneys for the Mountain West Conference, the Western Athletic Conference and the West Coast Conference. The Pac-12 tourney would be in the MGM Grand Garden Arena, which will need to be outfitted for basketball.

Huskies basketball coach Lorenzo Romar was lukewarm about the tourney leaving his hometown, but knows the realities.

“We’ve grown to be comfortable there,” Romar said. “It will definitely be different, and take some getting used to.”

Asked if Vegas’s temptations would be a problem for teams, Romar said, “LA has a lot of distractions too. It will be important to play and stay at appropriate places.

“But I have a lot of respect for Larry Scott. He’s made a lot of good decisions.”


YourThoughts

  • jafabian

    Ideally, the tournament should rotate between all the Pac-12 schools IMO.  I would love to see the city of Seattle make a pitch to host it,  With so many NBA players hailing from Washington state I think there’d be a lot of interest in it if it came here.  Key Arena might not be good enough for the NBA but it’s more than adequate to host the tourney or even some NCAA regional semifinal games.

    Seattle has successfully hosted Final Fours.  The Pac-12 tourney should be easy to do.

  • jafabian

    Ideally, the tournament should rotate between all the Pac-12 schools IMO.  I would love to see the city of Seattle make a pitch to host it,  With so many NBA players hailing from Washington state I think there’d be a lot of interest in it if it came here.  Key Arena might not be good enough for the NBA but it’s more than adequate to host the tourney or even some NCAA regional semifinal games.

    Seattle has successfully hosted Final Fours.  The Pac-12 tourney should be easy to do.

  • RadioGuy

    I like the idea of Seattle hosting the tournament, too (KeyArena would be a great venue), but I think the PAC 12 wanted a warm weather city to host it and Vegas is nothing if not a warm weather city.  Salt Lake City may have been the best pick, frankly, because the state of Utah has been basketball-crazy for decades and I think SLC would have embraced it totally even with the Jazz in town.

    At any rate, it was past time to move out of LA, where the tournament was never a big deal because there is just too much else to do there.  I’m not convinced Vegas is the best place to have it, but it’ll be an improvement.

    • Mike Berger

      Agreed — the venue had to be moved. Just now watching the near “prime-time” matchup between ASU and Stanford. Cameras are zoomed in as far as practicable to avoid exposing 12,500 or more empty seats. Sad. I know it’s only the opening round but please–this doesn’t happen in the ACC or the Big East. Doesn’t help that there is not a compelling darkhorse ready to pounce. The PAC-12 will catch up but it will take some time. Heck– I might attend the tournament in Vegas–shorter trip from WA, plenty of activities, cheaper stay. On the down side, I would have to get clearance from the war department to attend (it’s a JOKE, dear, I love you!).

  • RadioGuy

    I like the idea of Seattle hosting the tournament, too (KeyArena would be a great venue), but I think the PAC 12 wanted a warm weather city to host it and Vegas is nothing if not a warm weather city.  Salt Lake City may have been the best pick, frankly, because the state of Utah has been basketball-crazy for decades and I think SLC would have embraced it totally even with the Jazz in town.

    At any rate, it was past time to move out of LA, where the tournament was never a big deal because there is just too much else to do there.  I’m not convinced Vegas is the best place to have it, but it’ll be an improvement.

    • Mike Berger

      Agreed — the venue had to be moved. Just now watching the near “prime-time” matchup between ASU and Stanford. Cameras are zoomed in as far as practicable to avoid exposing 12,500 or more empty seats. Sad. I know it’s only the opening round but please–this doesn’t happen in the ACC or the Big East. Doesn’t help that there is not a compelling darkhorse ready to pounce. The PAC-12 will catch up but it will take some time. Heck– I might attend the tournament in Vegas–shorter trip from WA, plenty of activities, cheaper stay. On the down side, I would have to get clearance from the war department to attend (it’s a JOKE, dear, I love you!).

  • Jen

    Always nice to start the season with a win!  I didn’t realize we’re playing Oakland 7 times in the next three weeks – wow.

  • Jp

    Ichiro is on pace to have 648 hits this season.

  • Tian Biao

    Japan, man, I wish i was there. the atmosphere sounds incredible. awesome, even . . . keep us posted, Art!

  • jafabian

    Ichiro gets four hits but only 1 RBI.  No matter where he hits despite the fact he’s the best hitter on the club it doesn’t help if no one’s on base.

  • zippy

     multi-game suspension for an off-season DUI? — NFL is going way too boyscout– let the beasts play!

  • Bongotodd63

    It could be very well that he was not intoxicated, might have a drink on his breath and that he was just a black man driving in Oakland.  Just saying and I am white. And Thiel your the guy that also praises Lynch when he does well on the field. People make mistakes and stop being the Judge and Jury, DICK…

  • jafabian

    Lynch needs a wake up call.  As Goodell once said, playing in the NFL is not a right but a privilege.   Didn’t like letting Forestt go for the very reasons Art states here:  he was one of the straight arrows of the team of whom I once had the pleasure of hearing him speak at a church.  On a team where ability and accomplishments can sometimes overshadow transgressions the Hawks need to keep some of those types of personalities around to keep things in balance.

  • Kevin

    Robert Turbin better explode on the scene… or else the Hawks are a one-dimensional offense that just turned no-dimensional. 

  • PokeyPuffy

    gosh, didn’t think about suspensions, it really is bad news!  Getting the most out of undervalued, wayward players like Lynch is supposed to be Carroll’s strength….whaat happened?

  • OffTheLows

    There’s no history outside of Donte Stallworth that I’ve seen for players to be suspended for DUI, and his of course included a manslaughter. Raheem Brock had a DUI and a dine and dash incident and never was suspended and there wasn’t even discussion in the media of a potential suspension. Everything I read seems to be fait accompli that before charges, before a court date, before a potential trial (which would likely be in 2013), Lynch will be suspended at least 3 games, even though DUI history throughout the league indicates that even a single game suspension is rare. Reporters and commentators seem to have an agenda to push this belief while completely ignoring past precedent.

  • notaboomer

    cut lynch. raise ticket and beer prices. put all games on premium cable to pay for it. win-win. except for the average fan of course but who cares about us?

  • Matt712

    The facts will exonerate Marshawn. This is what really happened…

    Marshawn had spent the entire day in 90 degree heat with his church group putting a new roof on a homeless shelter which he had funded after his contract extension. And, as you can imagine, he and the rest of the flock had worked up a mighty thirst. So Marshawn dispatched his nephew, who had just turned 21 two days prior, to the local supermarket, giving him money to buy everyone lemonade. As the boy turned to leave, Marshawn told him to hurry, saying, “Hurry up, man! Go hard like I do!”

    Misunderstanding the “Go hard!” reference, the youngster returned with several cases of Mike’s Hard Lemonade. Now, neither Marshawn nor the rest of the faithful laborers, being so entrenched in their Christian lifestyles, even knew what Mike’s Hard Lemonade was. But they did know one thing: it was ice cold and had a pretty yellow & black label with a lemon on it ! Now, I don’t know if you’ve ever had a Hard Lemonade on a 90 degree day, but I can tell you, it goes down pretty darned quick and you cannot taste the alcohol. ….Marshawn proceeded to drink a case and a half by himself.

    Believe it or not, this level of consumption barley even phased him. Remember, this is a man who eats a 1 lb. bag of Skittles just to warm up for practice. So, not surprisingly, he thought it was simply a combination of his usual sugar buzz and the sweltering heat that had tampered with his equilibrium. Nevertheless, there was still much work to be done on that roof. But, as Marshawn strapped his tool belt back on and hollered at his fellow parishioners to join him, he noticed that they had all passed out on the shelter’s front lawn.

    Instead of quitting right then and there, Marshawn decided to do what he (long before Greg Jennings) had always done: put the team on his back. Marshawn worked into the night with only the street lights to guide his hammer, re-roofing that homeless shelter  until 2:30 AM. He only stopped every ten minutes or so to hydrate himself with more of that delicious lemonade.

    He then climbed down and loaded his still comatose Christians into the church van and proceeded to drive each of them safely home. After tucking the last one into bed at around 3:30, he finally staggered slowly back to the van and headed home himself. He was so exhausted he could barely keep his eyes open. And that’s when the flashing blue lights appeared in his rear view mirror.

    So, you see, it was all just a big misunderstanding. The real tragedy here is that, some in Oakland =, there’s a homeless shelter with a really poorly built roof.

  • Steven

    Saw this posted on the Field Gulls blog:

    https://twitter.com/RossTuckerNFL/with_replies

    Apparently a suspension for a substance abuse violation might void the guaranteed portion of Marshawn’s contract. If true, that may soften the blow to the Seahawks, and would ratchet up the pressure on Marshawn to earn his contract if he wants to continue getting paid.