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LAS VEGAS — The Pac-12 has reached a multi-year agreement with the MGM Grand Las Vegas Hotel and Casino to continue its men’s basketball conference tournament in Las Vegas, according to a well-placed source knowledgeable of the negotiations.
“Pac-12 officials initially were concerned about MGM’s ability to put out a first-class product but now are satisfied, hence the new agreement,” the source told AllSportsTucson.com today under condition of anonymity.
The Pac-12 tournament is currently under contract to be held at the MGM Grand Garden Arena through 2016. In the years after, the conference will likely move the tournament to a 20,000-seat arena on the The Strip. The facility, owned by MGM, will open in April.
The tournament moved to the Garden Arena from Los Angeles’ Staples Center in 2013. The three-year contract between the Pac-12 and MGM was set to expire after the tournament completed in March, but commissioner Larry Scott announced an extension of at least one more year with MGM through the upcoming season.
“Between now and next year’s tournament we plan to spend a lot of time going over the plans for the event and trying to understand the interralation between the hotels and the new facility,” Scott said in a press conference at the Pac-12 tournament six months ago. “There’s a lot to understand in terms of how the new arena will work and the dynamics with the hotel and overall fan experience.”
With the multi-year agreement, Scott and Pac-12 officials must be impressed with what MGM has to offer with the new arena.
MGM and the Anschutz Entertainment Group are constructing a 20,000-seat indoor arena behind the New York-New York and Monte Carlo resorts that will feature boxing, top-draw headliners and special events. It will also be home to a possible NHL expansion team. The facility, called the MGM AEG Arena, is expected to hold 18,850 seats for basketball games, which is almost 6,000 more than the current setup at Garden Arena.
If the Pac-12 tournament moves to the new arena in 2017, it will be interesting to see if sellouts still occur. One of the attractions of having the tournament at the Garden Arena is its quaint size (12,916 watched Arizona beat Oregon for the Pac-12 tournament title in March) and proximity to the MGM Grand casino.
Fans can stay under the MGM Grand roof while walking through the food court area straight to the arena. To enter the MGM AEG Arena, fans must leave the adjacent casinos. The arena will also have its own parking.
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MGM AEG ARENA FACTS
Location: Las Vegas Strip
Broke ground: May 1, 2014
Planned opening: April 27, 2016
Construction cost: $375 million
Boxing/MMA — 20,000
Concerts — 12,000–20,000
Basketball — 18,800
Hockey — 17,500