Thursday November 30, 2023

Las Vegas Is a Conference Tournament Mecca

  • Las Vegas will host 10 total D-I men’s and women’s conference tournaments.
  • The pandemic has made the city even more popular for conference tournaments.
Photo: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY/Design: Alex Brooks
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Las Vegas will host 10 conference tournaments for D-I men’s and women’s basketball. It’s been a destination for these events in years past — but the pandemic has made it even more popular.

The Western Athletic, West Coast, Pac-12, and Mountain West conferences will return, while the Big West will play there for the first time. 

To minimize contact with the outside world, conferences are choosing Vegas as a de facto bubble since arenas are either close to or connected to hotels.

The Perks

In 2020, the Big West held its tournaments at the Honda Center in Anaheim. But they’ve relocated to the Michelob Ultra Arena this year to achieve a “bubble-like setting,” Commissioner Dan Butterly said in a statement.

The tournaments will draw on successful protocols from previous events, from daily testing and sanitized practice facilities to enclosed walkways to and from the arena, according to the conference.

“Mandalay Bay provides the ideal campus in which to create a safe ‘stay and play’ environment,” Brooks Downing, president and CEO of Las Vegas NCAA tournament organizer bdG Sports, said in a statement.

Sports Haven

Conferences looking for an environment conducive to basketball during the pandemic aren’t the only ones that have found a home in Vegas.

In the fall, New Mexico state regulations prevented the gathering and traveling required to hold a season. So the University of New Mexico football team spent its season at a Las Vegas hotel and trained at UNLV.

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