Basketball Tournaments Bring Tourism to Silver State - KTVN Channel 2 - Reno Tahoe News Weather, Video -

Basketball Tournaments Bring Tourism to Silver State

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Las Vegas has been a destination for travelers from around the world for decades. And now the city is attracting college basketball. In fact, four conference tournaments have been going on here throughout the week.

College basketball fans are flocking to Las Vegas - hoping their teams will take home a conference tournament title. This is the sixth year in a row, that the Mountain West Conference has played its postseason games here. "The fans have said this is where they want to be. We started with the first seven years, here. We went back to Denver for a few years and then came back to Las Vegas, due to the membership, but also the fans wanting to be here," says Javan Hedlund, Mountain West Conference Assistant Commissioner.

Officials are expecting 18,000 fans to show up for the Mountain West semi-finals, Friday night - all spending money in the Silver State. Hedlund says the variety in Las Vegas is part of why so many people come to these tournaments. "It gives them an opportunity to go see a show. If they want to go have some really good food. But also, the different tournaments that are here in the city. So, you have a lot of options and a lot of good basketball."

The Mountain West Conference tournament will be in southern Nevada through 2016. The university athletic directors and presidents would have to decide if it would stay there after that. "From that point on, it will be up to membership where they want to go. If they want a neutral court, or if they want to remain in Las Vegas. Either here at the Thomas and Mack or if a new facility gets built somewhere, here in the city."

There's plenty of work to do around the facility to set up for the Mountain West Tournament. With 11 men's and women's teams playing - they have to plan for 20 games in less than a week. But the work begins months in advance. Officials start booking hotels and airline tickets for the teams in October. Once we get to January, we really start to put the full-court press on, per se, to put together all the volunteers. I have about 45 just on the media relations side and about 130, altogether. So, it's a good three or four month process."

Officials say it's easy to see why so many conferences are having their tournaments here. Las Vegas has both the hotels and the venues - not to mention a major airport.

The Mountain West Conference tournament wraps up Saturday with the champions getting an automatic bid to next week's NCAA tournament.

Written by Paul Nelson

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