Nevada to bid for ’06, ’07 WAC tourneys
September 4, 2004
MONROE, La. – The University Nevada, in conjunction with the Reno Sparks Convention & Visitors Authority, will submit a bid today to host the 2006 and 2007 Western Athletic Conference men’s and women’s basketball tournaments at Lawlor Events Center.
Cary Groth, Nevada’s first-year athletic director, said she will hand deliver the proposal to Karl Benson, the WAC commissioner, who is in town for Monday’s Nevada-Louisiana Tech football game.
Groth said her bid must include all costs associated with the tournament. The host school/sponsor is responsible for the expenses of the other nine schools. She also said that the WAC wants to ascertain whether it will be a money maker for the host school and the WAC.
Nevada had already been named the host of this year’s event in early March. Nevada is no stranger to hosting postseason basketball. The Wolf Pack hosted the Big West Conference tourney four straight years in the 90s.
“I have not seen it (the offer),” Benson said in a phone conversation en route to Louisiana for the football game. “I’m aware of it. I expected them to bid. In fact, I encouraged them to bid. I was hoping they would.
“It (Reno) is a destination. I expect this year’s tournament to be a success. In my conversations with Big West people, they felt that Reno was a great site and a great host. Fresno will gets fans to Reno. Boise State has always shown a strong interest in Reno.”
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Benson said three other schools have or will put in bids – Boise State, Fresno State and Utah State.
“All three have history of hosting basketball events,” Benson said. In fact, Boise State is hosting first-round regional action this year. Boise has been a fairly regular host of first and second-round action.
Groth said she wanted to host the tournament for financial and competitive reasons.
“You get better community support,” she said. “You are able to build community sponsorship. From what I’ve heard, fans from other schools want to come to Reno because there is so much to offer. It’s a very attractive city. They come here for the five days of the tournament, and they want to do something else (besides watch basketball).
“It’s a competitive advantage for Nevada. Hopefully it would help us show off what we have here. We have a great facility.”
In March, WAC basketball fans could gamble, golf, ski and see a show or two. The opportunities are endless unlike in Fresno where there was nothing to do but watch basketball.
Groth said that when she was athletic director at Northern Illinois University, she pushed for NIU to host as many conference tournaments as possible. She wants Nevada and the community to get used to hosting championship events.
It certainly wouldn’t hurt to have the tournament in the same spot either on a regular basis, or at least for more than one year at a time.
“It’s not only that,” Benson said. “You want to build a tournament to the point where you are getting fan interest and fan participation from the entire membership, and not just the host school. That’s our goal. That’s the point we’re trying to get to.
“We want to create a tournament environment, and not depend on the host team to play in the championship game.”
Last year, Fresno, the tournament host, failed to reach the championship game. Benson said it was the first time that the host school didn’t play in the title game. Fresno hosted the first WAC tournament after the most recent breakup (1999) and made the finals. Tulsa hosted the tournament the next three years and reached the finals each time.
Darrell Moody can be reached at email@example.com, or by calling (775) 881-1281.