Tournament moving to T-Mobile Arena next year, Pac-12 Networks issues

IMG_6739 Griffin Adams

Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott addressed media Friday afternoon at the MGM Grand Arena regarding the future of the conference and, most notably, the future home of the Pac-12 Men’s Basketball Tournament.

No longer will the tournament be held at the MGM, where it has been for the past few years. It will instead move across the street to the new T-Mobile Arena behind the New York, New York as a part of a three-year agreement, starting next year in the 2016-17 season. This new arena will open on April 6, 2016.

The conference enjoys the environment Las Vegas provides and didn’t really have any plans to move it away from Sin City. However, it felt a need to allow for more space for fans, especially considering how this year’s tournament was sold out.

Since MGM’s casino connects directly to the arena, the Pac-12 wanted to make sure a similar atmosphere would be present at the new site. With the two-acre plaza at the new site, it is sure fans will continue stay engaged and excited.

While the MGM provides all sorts of entertainment outside of the arena and within in the building, Scott feels as though the plaza at the T-Mobile Arena should somewhat balance that in addition to the actual entertainment within the arena itself. He is positive everyone will take a liking to what they are planning for the upcoming years.

“We’ve got a vision for an even bigger, better experience for our fans and student athletes,” Scott said. “The success of this event isn’t just what happens in the Garden Arena. It’s broader than what happens from the opening whistle to the closing whistle. We’ve spent a lot of time talking about what’s going to happen.”

The new arena will hold 18,500 seats, 10,000 of which will be in the lower bowl, and that was one of the main goals — to get as many fans to the event as possible. While having the feeling of a sold-out arena is certainly a positive of the MGM, Scott is confident more fans will feel inclined to show up because of the move.

The Pac-12 didn’t make this decision alone. It spoke with the athletic directors of each school for their input, and this week, each school was given the opportunity to tour the arena. However, it is still under construction, and the conference held off on making the final decision until all 12 schools had seen it. When it came down to it, the board voted unanimously to move the tournament.

“No one takes for granted having a sold-out event, the atmosphere, the energy and excitement that’s being created,” Scott said. “Any time you’re going to make a change from that, you’re going to give that very careful consideration. We wanted to make sure that each of our schools had the chance to see first hand what’s being built.”

As of now, there are no plans for any sort of ticket allotment per school, but Scott rehashed the point of more space, which will allow for more fans to come to Vegas and show support for their team.

“Las Vegas has been proven to be fan favorite,” Scott said. “We believe that the excitement of Las Vegas between the state-of-the-art T-Mobile Arena is going to take this event to new heights.”

Problems with the Pac-12 Networks

Scott emphasized the plurality of “Networks” because of the six regional channels. According to Scott, each regional network provides niche content to certain fan bases, and this is in addition to the national one the Pac-12 does carry.

This week, plenty of fans took to social media to criticize this method since not all TV providers have both regional and national channels. One glaring issue fans saw being that they were unable to watch some of the Pac-12 Tournament because some of the regional channels were showing re-runs of old games.

However, Scott thinks it is on the fans to push their providers for more content.

“Our desire is for all of our providers to carry the Pac-12 national and regional network and have those both be on the basic service,” Scott said.

Scott did not directly address whether or not anything would be fixed in the upcoming months but said that it is always a possibility.

k.brenneisen@dailyutahchronicle.com

@kbrenneisen