LAS VEGAS - OCTOBER 13: Dario Franchitti of Scotland driver of the #10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Dallara Honda during the IZOD IndyCar Series World Championship Las Vegas Strip Parade Laps on Las Vegas boulevard on October 13, 2011 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Robert Laberge/Getty Images)
Pac-12 basketball is something that generates a lot of apathy from the masses these days, because, well, it's simply not all that fun to talk about. Maybe one or two teams will be tournament-bound, while the rest end up in consolation brackets or stuck in perpetual rebuilding.
Usually you'd think the final event would be something to take notice of, but the venue just makes you go meh. The Pac-12 and many of its fans are tired of Staples Center and empty arenas that make you think you got lost and ended up at Galen. Many conference members want to make a change, and the Pac-12 seems willing to make a move as well.
Vegas seems to be actively discussed as a future site for the conference to host the tournament, and it's an exciting thing to think about. Vegas has the central location similar to Los Angeles that would work for the Pac-12, but doesn't suffer from the same issues that plague the LA. There are few traffic and logistical issues in Vegas, with only one central site where most people will stay. (Whereas most people who visit LA do not spend their time in downtown LA, particularly for the long stretch of time that the Pac-12 Tournament demands). It would also eliminate the numerous gripes many people have about the tourney being in a site that clearly favors the hometown USC Trojans and UCLA Bruins, and would be as neutral a site. And it's far easier to coax people to spend a week in Vegas than in LA, plus more convenient to make an impromptu trip planned only a week or so in advance.
The only question is where to play the games? MGM Garden Arena seems to be discussed as the potential site if a move was to be made in the next year or two, but it's clearly an untenable spot long-term, as the arena lacks the amenities or luxury suites to be a successful site financially long-term. Ditto Thomas and Mack Center (a nice enough arena, but still an old one) and Orleans Arena (too small). There needs to be a central site.
So this news seems convenient.
Chinese banking concerns agree to finance $650 million for 17,500 sports arena in Las Vegas.— Steve Carp (@stevecarprj) February 13, 2012
Deal for Vegas arena is with International Development Management and Smart Cities International. Construction starts mid-year and done 2014— Steve Carp (@stevecarprj) February 13, 2012
@TwoPieceBoxing In Henderson near the M Hotel and Casino off I-15 at the very south end of town.— Steve Carp (@stevecarprj) February 13, 2012
There you go. With a big-time arena in Vegas and plenty of capable transport between the Strip and the new location, you have your new central site to play the premier postseason event of the Pac-12. And it should sell pretty well in Vegas compared to Los Angeles. Move to MGM for a year or two before switching to the new state-of-the-art facility a year or two down the road.
It seems the conference is on the point of making their decision, and Vegas has to be sitting pretty good.
(It might seem coincidental, but with Scott and China both also inter-mingling, do you wonder how much of a hand he had to play in getting some investors from this country to take a look at one of the major tourism destinations of the world to suit his purposes? I wouldn't put it past him.)