LAS VEGAS — After four years at the MGM Grand Garden Arena, the Pac-12 tournament is moving to a new venue for next year’s tournament.
Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott made the official announcement Friday that the tournament will be played at the new T-Mobile Arena, which is set to open next month, not far from the MGM Arena, across the Las Vegas Boulevard between the New York-New York and Monte Carlo hotels.
Scott said the league has created one of the “very best post-season tournaments in all of college basketball” since the tournament was moved from Los Angeles to Las Vegas in 2012 and that “fans have responded and “atmosphere has been electric” over the past four years.
“We are now thrilled to be to build on our success in the state-of-the-art T-Mobile Arena and deliver a world-class experience to more Pac-12 fans,” Scott said.
The new arena will seat nearly 18,500 fans, almost 6,000 more than the MGM Arena holds. The agreement between the Pac-12 and the T-Mobile Arena is for three years.
TOUGH TICKET: It’s not like three years ago when the Pac-12 Tournament first came to Las Vegas and fans could get a reasonably priced ticket to most of the sessions and certainly not like the days when the tournament was held in Los Angeles and the Staples Center was barely half-filled.
These days, the sessions are sold-out and ticket “brokers” are all around the arena asking for spare tickets from Wednesday on. The normal price for a session ticket is $60, but if you wanted a ticket Friday afternoon, tickets were going for around $150. Courtside seats were as much as $450 on Ticketmaster while the cheapest ticket on StubHub as of Friday afternoon was $125.
If fans didn’t want to drop that much cash, they can always drive 15 minutes up Tropicana Boulevard and watch the WAC Tournament where seats could be had for 10 bucks or so.
UTE FANS DOMINATE: For the second straight year, Utah fans are dominating the Chevron Hoops Challenge on the MGM Grand Garden Arena concourse, which shows either there are more Ute fans in attendance than the other schools or they are better shooters.
As of Friday evening between the two semifinal games, Utah had just under 13,000 baskets, well ahead of Arizona’s 8,400. After that, the other schools lagged for behind, with Arizona State around 4,000, Colorado about 2,000 and the rest of the schools under 1,500 with Washington State bringing up the rear at 234.
GARDNER TO HALL: Utah’s Vern Gardner, who was part of Utah’s NIT winning team in 1947, was inducted into the Pac-12 men’s Basketball Hall of Honor this week.
Gardner played for the Utes from 1945 to 1949 and helped guide the team to a 66-30 overall record and was a two-time all-American in 1946-47 and 1947-48. He was also the MVP of the NIT in 1947 when the Utes beat Kentucky in the finals.
Each school is represented each year in the Hall of Honor and among the other inductees this year were Washington’s Isaiah Thomas, a current NBA player and Oregon’s Luke Ridnour, a former NBA player.
TOURNEY NOTES: This marked the third time in five years the Utes made it to the Pac-12 semifinals. In 2012 they lost the first round to Colorado and in 2015 were beaten by Arizona in the quarterfinals . . . With his 3-point basket at the 16:58 mark of the first half, Jordan Loveridge moved past Glen Smith into 13th place on the all-time Utah scoring list with 1,534 points . . . Utah’s eight-game winning streak going into Friday night’s game was tied for fifth-longest in the nation.