So, if you didn't hear yet, the WAC basketball tournament is headed to Las Vegas for the 2011 and 2012 seasons.
Some will disagree but, if I may be perfectly blunt, I don't like the idea. I like playing the tournament on college campuses. The only problem I have with that format is that roughly four colleges will get the tourney and the rest will be left blowing in the wind. That's not fair.
In my perfect world, the tournament would rotate between each school in the conference. How great was it when the tourney was in Las Cruces? I think every WAC town should experience the excitement. From Ruston, Louisiana, to Moscow, Idaho, to Honolulu, Hawaii. That would really build the fan bases in your respective college towns. And it would help bring out the personality of the WAC.
Obviously this isn't going to happen, and at least with a neutral court, you level the competitive balance. The Orleans Arena appears to be a nice facility, and no, I don't think having the Mountain West Tournament at the same time will hurt the WAC all that much. The reality is, how big do you think the crowds will be anyway? At least when you had the tournament at home sites, you knew you were going to get some sellouts when the local team took the floor. I would say that the crowd situation comes into question for me. So, we'll see. Time will tell on this one.
Here's what some of our conference coaches are saying. They're all happy with the move:
Marvin Menzies-New Mexico State men
"When we went to Las Vegas, we had the opportunity to look at the facilities. Fans are going to be pleasantly surprised with the true basketball environment that is presented there. I think it will be a great event and I know the West Coast Conference had a phenomenal tournament. I look forward to it, and moving it out of anyone's home turf is good for the conference in general.
Steve Cleveland-Fresno State men
"The Orleans is a great facility and the opportunity to compete at a neutral site in Las Vegas will generate excitement among the student athletes and the fans."
Kerry Rupp-Louisiana Tech men
"I'm very pleased that the WAC tournament will be moved to a neutral site in Las Vegas. Las Vegas is a great city and the Orleans Arena is a great venue which will provide for a spectacular weekend of championship basketball to showcase this event.'
Greg Graham-Boise State men
"I think moving the WAC tournament to Vegas is a great opportunity for not only us, but the rest of the teams in the conference. We are not only excited about the opportunity to be playing on a neutral court in an exciting environment, but think Vegas will be a great place for the fans to get excited about going. It's a good move and will make for a great conference tournament."
Bob Nash-Hawai'i men
"Moving the tournament to Las Vegas makes great sense competitively, geographically and financially. It's certainly a natural fit for Hawai'i and I know for a fact that our fans will enjoy having the tournament there. Most importantly, it's a neutral site, which provides a level playing field and should make for some great basketball."
George Nessman-San Jose State men
"The Orleans is a fabulous venue. Playing in Las Vegas provides a neutral court setting for all WAC teams and a fun destination for many fans. The WAC has made an outstanding move that will generate more interest in what is already a premier athletic event."
David Carter-Nevada men
"I am very excited about the WAC Tournament moving to a neutral site. It will be very good for our conference and our teams. Our fans have supported the tournament so well on campus, and I am sure they will turn out in force to enjoy everything that the Orleans and a neutral site like Las Vegas has to offer."
Jon Newlee-Idaho women
"I am really looking forward to the neutral site move. I believe it gives everyone a fair and equal chance to compete and advance to the NCAA Tournament. It brings the WAC in line with the rest of the major conferences in the country and will really give us that 'March Madness' feel. Great move!"
Adrian Wiggins-Fresno State women
"We are excited that the WAC Tournament is moving to the Orleans Arena. It is a great venue that will provide an excellent college basketball atmosphere. This will be a great opportunity for our conference to showcase the great basketball talent we have in the WAC."
Pam DeCosta-San Jose State women
"This is a great move for our conference. Playing at a neutral site gives any team a chance to win the tournament. In the two years I have been in the conference, the home crowd has given the home team an advantage and made them the favorite to win. With this change, every team at the tournament now has a chance to win and extend their season."
Jane Albright-Nevada women
"I was very impressed with the Orleans Arena when we toured it in the spring. The people there have made a huge commitment to the WAC and I believe this move is very positive for our conference."
Raegan Pebley-Utah State women
"Moving the WAC tourney to the Orleans in Las Vegas is a great opportunity to enhance WAC student-athletes' and fans' experiences. What a fun week that will be. Great basketball and great fans combined with a great facility and city. We appreciate Karl Benson and his staff as well as all of the university presidents and administrators support in moving the WAC basketball tournament to a neutral site. While Reno and Las Cruces have been excellent hosts, this move is something that both coaches and student-athletes felt important in creating a quality event for all parties involved."
Teresa Weatherspoon-Louisiana Tech women
"I think it's a great idea to have the tournament at a neutral site. It puts all nine teams on an even playing field. Everyone has to travel and everyone is taken out of their comfort zone. There will be no home court advantage for anyone. This is a great opportunity to showcase our league on a neutral court."