While the Pac-12 has made its fair share of missteps the last few years, one of the few good things they've done is move the Pac-12 Tournament to Las Vegas, making it one of the more popular travel draws of any in college basketball. Who doesn't want to spend a long week in Vegas watching hoops all day and gambling all night?
The Pac-12 is moving from MGM Arena inside the MGM Casino to new Vegas digs the next three years. T-Mobile Arena should be done soon, and will be ready in time for the Pac-12 to move their tournament to the new arena on the Strip next season. It's unlikely you'll see the tournament move from Vegas anytime soon--it's a perfect place for college hoops fans to watch their teams one last time before the postseason.
Here is the official press release from the Pac-12.
The Pac-12 has reached an agreement with T-Mobile Arena and Las Vegas Events to keep the Pac-12 Men's Basketball Tournament in Las Vegas for the next three years, the Conference announced today. The tournament will be played in T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas' newest sports and entertainment venue being developed by joint venture partners AEG and MGM Resorts International and set to open April 6, 2016.
The Pac-12 originally brought the tournament to Las Vegas in 2012 after more than a decade in Los Angeles. Last year, the Pac-12 extended its agreement to host the 2016 tournament in Las Vegas, and now the Pac-12 has committed for the next three years.
The season-ending conference championship tournaments in Las Vegas have drawn great attendance over the four years at the MGM Grand Garden Arena, culminating with a sellout of all sessions this year, and provided an exciting experience for Pac-12 student-athletes and fans.
"In only four years, we have created one of the very best post-season tournaments in all of college basketball here in Las Vegas," said Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott. "Our fans have responded, the atmosphere has been electric, and our student-athletes have really enjoyed playing in front of great crowds. We are now thrilled to build on our success in the state-of-the-art T-Mobile Arena and deliver a world-class experience to more Pac-12 fans."
This year's tournament continues tonight at 6 p.m. PT at the MGM Grand Garden Arena as the top four seeds - Oregon, Arizona, Utah, and California compete in the semi-final round. The 2016 championship game will take place tomorrownight at 7 p.m. PT with the conference title and an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament on the line.
Dan Quinn, general manager of T-Mobile Arena, said, "T-Mobile Arena is thrilled to be the new home of the Pac-12 Men's Basketball Tournament in Las Vegas. Over the last four years the Las Vegas community and college basketball fans nationwide have watched the tournament grow in popularity and we look forward to continuing its success as we showcase the city's newest sports and entertainment venue."
T-Mobile Arena will seat nearly 18,500 Pac-12 fans for the tournament and offer an unparalleled fan experience. The venue is scheduled to host more than 100 events annually including UFC, boxing, college basketball and other sporting events; major headline entertainment, awards shows and special events. The newest landmark, located on the Las Vegas Strip, will have a significant impact on the city's entertainment landscape while providing Las Vegas visitors and the local community a guest experience second to none.
Dan Beckerman, president & CEO, AEG, said, "T-Mobile Arena, which is being created to present the most important sporting events, concerts, awards shows and special events will be the perfect setting to host the always exciting and newsworthy Pac-12 Men's Basketball Tournament. When we first began to discuss events we wanted to bring to the arena with our joint venture partners MGM Resorts, the Pac-12 Tournament was at the top of our list. Together with the Pac-12 and Las Vegas Events, we believe we can further raise the profile of the event to even greater heights in 2017 when we begin to call T-Mobile Arena the home of the Pac-12 Men's Basketball Tournament."
In addition to the agreement with T-Mobile Arena, the Pac-12 re-upped its partnership with Las Vegas Events (LVE) for three years. LVE has been a champion of bringing the best college basketball tournaments to Las Vegas and has been a valuable partner for the Pac-12 since its move to Las Vegas four years ago.
Pat Christenson, president of Las Vegas Events, said, "Las Vegas is committed to hosting high-profile championship events each year, and the extension with the Pac-12 Conference through 2019 is representative of that vision. The Pac-12 Men's Basketball Tournament brings great energy and enthusiastic fans to our destination. Through this partnership, Las Vegas will continue to work with the Pac-12 to create a unique atmosphere for fans, while providing an outstanding venue for student-athletes to pursue excellence on the court."