Published March 13, 2012
LAS VEGAS – The Pac-12 men's basketball tournament is moving to Sin City for the next three years.
Commissioner Larry Scott announced the deal Tuesday at the MGM Grand hotel-casino in Las Vegas, standing poolside near a site known for boxing, not basketball.
Scott said the move, combined with moving the women's tournament to Seattle, will generate buzz and create atmosphere for the conference's fans.
The Pac-12 tournament running March 13-16, 2013, will be the fourth conference tournament in Las Vegas, along with the Mountain West, Western Athletic Conference and West Coast Conference.
"For hardcore basketball fans, this is going to be like Disneyland," Scott said.
Rossi Ralenkotter of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority said the tournament will establish Las Vegas as the town where March Madness begins, with the tournaments generating $27 million in spending in the city — excluding gambling.
"It's a win-win for all of us," Ralenkotter said.
Roughly one-third of Las Vegas' 39 million tourists last year came from California. Four of the Pac-12's schools are in the Golden State.
All the tournament's games will be televised under a 12-year deal with ESPN, Fox and the newly created Pac-12 Network. Scott said ESPN would air three tournament games, including the championship, next year.
Sin City won out over other places including Salt Lake City, Seattle and Los Angeles in bidding to host the tournament, Scott said.
Stanford coach Johnny Dawkins praised Scott for the move.
"He's looking to continue to try to forge ahead with making this conference the type of conference that he envisions and that we envision — and that's one of the best conferences in the country," Dawkins said.
Washington coach Lorenzo Romar said Las Vegas will be more convenient for the Pac-12's teams.
"It's not spread out at all, just about everything is right there at everyone's fingertips," Scott said. "I can see this taking us to the next level as a conference with national exposure."
The tournament will be the first time the MGM Grand Garden Arena has hosted basketball. It's world-famous for hosting top prizefights, and regularly hosts exhibition NHL hockey, concerts, awards shows and other corporate events. Last month, it hosted a swanky, star-studded bash to celebrate Muhammad Ali's 70th birthday.
Scott Sibella, the MGM Grand's president, said the arena would hold 14,000 to 15,000 fans for basketball.
"It's a 3-year deal but we're going to prove to them that they're going to be here a lot longer than three years," Sibella said.
Oskar Garcia can be reached at http://twitter.com/oskargarcia .
AP Sports Writer Janie McCauley in San Francisco contributed to this report.