The men’s and women’s basketball seasons are winding down, and that means that it is time to talk about every school’s respective conference tournament. For the major conference out on here on the West Coast, this time of year marks the first time the men’s tournament will be played outside the cavernous Staples Center; and the women’s tournament is going to a place where people will actually watch their games.
Since the seeding of the two tournaments hasn’t really shaken out yet, we cannot predict how these tournaments are going to go. So instead we are going to take a look at the arenas and the cities that these are played in. Why you might ask? Because I fucking feel like it, that’s why.
THE MEN’S TOURNAMENT (March 13th-March 16th):
- The City: The Pac-12 has decided to ship its men’s basketball tournament to Sin City. Really there isn’t that much that can be said about Las Vegas. It is a collection of hotels, casinos, and malls that attract millions of tourist a year. You have to hand it to Larry Scott, the decision to put the Pac-12 tournament in a city that’s already a destination for tourist is genius. Now the fact that your team is probably going to be one-and-done does not mean you can’t go to the tournament anyway; now fans can turn it into a four-day vacation at one of the largest tourist traps in the world. Whether or not their team makes it out of the first day in the tournament, fans can stay and party.
- The Arena: The MGM Grand Garden Arena is a 16,800 seat arena that is part of the MGM Grand Hotel & Casino complex; the structure is basically a giant seating bowl split by an interior concourse, therefore there really isn’t a bad seat in the house. Also, it is has been the subject of rumors as being the home arena (with some renovations) of an NBA team in Vegas. That being said no one is really willing to pony up the money to renovate the simple two bowl structure up to NBA standards.
THE WOMEN’S TOURNAMENT (March 7th-March 10th):
- The City: Seattle is known as the Emerald City, I still don’t understand why…but whatever. The City has supported women’s basketball, the WNBA team is averaging nearly 9,000 people a game at Key Arena. That’s the primary reason the Pac-12 felt comfortable going to Seattle for its tournament. Larry Scott and company had to realize that the City would easily go to the games. It is also helpful that many OSU, UO, UW, and WSU fans/alum live in the Seattle metropolitan area; that’s four schools that can easily be counted on for really good crowds at the Key.
- The Arena: The Key Arena is the 17,072 seat current home of the WNBA Seattle Storm, and the NCAA Seattle Redhawks (Men’s and Women’s) basketball; it was the home of the NBA but the buildings lease and lack of revenue generating options drove the team to OKC. That being said, it probably has some of the best sight-lines in basketball for the fans and it is going to be an amazing atmosphere for the tournament.
As the date of the tournaments approach there is excitement outside of the anticipation about what is going to happen on the court. Two cities are going on trial for the Pac-12; both cities hope to provide more for the tournaments than L.A did. It shouldn’t be hard, as both cities have their own attractions that make it likely for the tournaments to actually draw; unlike when they played at the Staples Center. As these tournaments get closer, we get closer to finding out whether or not Larry Scott has found the new permanent homes of his conference’s two basketball tournaments.