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So the Mountain West Conference coaches don’t like having the MW men’s basketball tournament in Las Vegas.
I wouldn’t either. The parking around the plaza is bad. There’s only one decent place to eat in town. The streets aren’t marked very well…oh, wait. That’s Las Vegas, N.M.
Most of the conference coaches that currently not coaching UNLV got together for a “poor me” conference call earlier this week to decry the MW’s decision to keep the conference tournament in Vegas — the real one, in Nevada — at the Thomas and Mack Center for at least three more years.
There is exactly one legitimate argument for not having the tournament at the Thomas and Mack Center: it’s the home court of the UNLV Runnin’ Rebels. In recent years, no team has won more conference tournament games than the Runnin’ Rebels (an aside: I readily admit I’m no Civil War buff, but what does the Confederacy have to do with Las Vegas? The Civil War never reached as far west as Nevada, unless some Confederate soldiers getting whipped by General Sherman decided to drown their troubles for one weekend at Caesar’s, so why the Rebels?).
Is that a problem? Maybe. Wouldn’t that problem also exist if the tournament was moved to The Pit (what I think Steve Alford was angling for), where the University of New Mexico Lobos have one of the most well-established home-court advantages in the nation? Of course, up until fairly recently, the Lobos couldn’t win a game outside of the Albuquerque metro area to save their lives.
Vegas is a tourist destination the world over. Subtract Vegas from the mix of potential MW venues, you have something along the lines of zero tourist destinations.
Outside of watching college basketball for 17 hours a day, there’s exactly bupkus to do in Albuquerque or Fresno. The weather situation in early March is dicey in Colorado Springs and Fort Collins. And who the hell would want to visit Laramie? Ever?
A neutral court location was tried, that being in Denver a few years ago. The average game’s attendance was minus 4 Gs what it was in Vegas. There’s little profit to be had there.
That leaves exactly one spot: San Diego. San Diego has nice weather, beaches, Sea World, In-N-Out Burger. Not too shabby of a choice.
OK, coaches of the MW, you’re down to two options. Vegas or San Diego. You can send me my thank-you cards at my Los Alamos Monitor office.
Another aside: when checking out the GoLobos.com website yesterday, I noticed a pop-up ad. Actually, there’s no way not to notice it because it pops out slightly bigger than your computer monitor. For sale at the UNM website is a nice, cherry-red T-shirt, which reads, and I quote: “Lobo Basketball, The Road to Fabulous Las Vegas, Nevada.” It retails for $17.95.
Just throwing that out there.