LAS VEGAS — The Western Athletic Conference today announced that the 2011 and 2012 WAC Basketball Tournaments will be held at the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas.
"We are extremely excited about bringing the WAC's most prestigious event back to the city of Las Vegas and the Orleans Arena," said WAC Commissioner Karl Benson. "Over the last couple of years, it has become more critical and important to find a neutral site to satisfy the concerns of our men's and women's coaches. WAC fans have shown that they enjoy traveling to Las Vegas and I am certain the Orleans Arena will create a great tournament atmosphere."
The 2011 WAC Men's and Women's Basketball Tournament will be held March 9-12 and will include the top eight teams in the regular-season standings.
"WAC head basketball coaches have been pushing for a neutral site for a number of years," said Utah State men's head coach Stew Morrill. "Las Vegas will be an exciting location, The Orleans is a great venue, and most importantly no team will have home court advantage."
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," USU women's basketball coach Raegan Pebley. 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."
The move to a neutral site was approved by the WAC Board of Directors which is currently chaired by the President of the University of Nevada, Milton Glick.
"We were delighted to have been selected to host the 2009 and 2010 tournaments in Reno in partnership with the Reno Sparks Convention and Visitors Authority," said Glick. "However, more tournaments are moving to neutral locations. The decision to move the 2011 WAC Basketball Tournament to Las Vegas is positive for the fans, the conference and the tournament. All of the WAC university presidents and athletic directors toured the Orleans Arena and believe it will be an excellent facility which will attract our fan base to attend the tournament.""
In April of this year, the conference announced that the 2009 WAC Volleyball Tournament will be held at the Orleans Arena. The venue is home to the Las Vegas Invitational and Las Vegas Classic annual collegiate basketball tournaments, and has hosted several other sporting events including AVP Volleyball, Las Vegas Wranglers hockey, Las Vegas Gladiators arena football, the West Coast Conference's basketball tournaments and several boxing and mixed martial arts events.
This marks the second time that the WAC Basketball Tournament will be played in Las Vegas. From 1997-99, the tournament was played at the Thomas & Mack Center when UNLV was a member of the WAC.
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"I believe for the WAC to continue growing and take its place among the top leagues in the country, we do need to play the tournament on a neutral court," said New Mexico State women's head coach Darin Spence. "Las Vegas should attract more fans from all schools and be a positive experience for all of us."
The 2010 tournament will be played in Reno, Nev., at the University's Lawlor Events Center. This past year, Nevada also hosted the tournament which was won by Utah State on the men's side and Fresno State on the women's.