The Western Athletic Conference Council is leaning toward Salt Lake City as a permanent site for its post-season basketball tournament.

At its spring meetings last week, the WAC Council - made up of athletic directors and faculty representatives from the nine conference schools - said it wants to decide on a permanent site for the tournament starting in 1993. Last year's tournament was held at Wyoming, and next year's event will be at Colorado State.Three candidates for the permanent site were mentioned - Salt Lake City, Albuquerque and Denver - but Salt Lake was the clear favorite, according to associate commissioner Jeff Hurd.

Hurd said Salt Lake City appeared to be the front-runner because a new arena with a seating capacity of 20,400 is scheduled to open there this fall, just a block from the Salt Palace. The new arena will be home to the NBA's Utah Jazz and the International Hockey League's Salt Lake Golden Eagles.

"It's probably the best site financially because of the drawing potential with Utah and Brigham Young fans," he said. "And geographically, it's right in the middle of the conference."

Denver is considered a long shot because of questionable drawing power in the area and conflicting events at McNichols Arena in early March.