Basketball: Pac-12 seems headed to Vegas, but the announcement won’t come yet


Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott said Wednesday afternoon that no decision has been made on where the Pac-12 tournament will be held in the future.

All signs point to the men going to Las Vegas next year and the women perhaps to Seattle, but Scott said nothing will be decided until the Pac-12 presidents vote at a meeting this weekend.

“When we have a decision, we’ll communicate it in all likelihood shortly after the tournament’s over, if a decision is made this weekend,” Scott said.

Scott said there are multiple cities that have “very aggressively” bid for the event. “So we have some tough decisions to make going forward and we have narrowed the process,” he said.

Asked earlier this week about a change, Cal coach Mike Montgomery said, “I think it’s going to happen.”

And that’s a good thing?

“Absolutely. L.A. hasn’t supported it. It’s been really a negative,” Montgomery said. “Obviously, Staples Center is big-time. It just hasn’t been supported attendance-wise.”

The 2011 Pac-12 championship game drew an announced crowd of 12,074 — smallest in 10 years.

Montgomery expects the event to be held at the MGM Grand, which can create a 12,000-seat arena, or larger.

“The thought would be you take it to a neutral venue and maybe people from all 12 schools come to Vegas, go to shows, do whatever you do,” Montgomery said.  “The MGM Grand is a huge, beautiful hotel with restaurants and shops.”

Montgomery pointed to the success the West Coast Conference has had at the smaller Orleans Arena in Vegas.

“Sure worth a try,” he said.

Scott confirmed that Las Vegas is among the bidders and seemed unconcerned about the potential for competition in the same city from the WCC, Mountain West and WAC tournaments, which would all share a two-week window with the Pac-12.

“We honestly have not thought a lot about the other leagues and how they schedule,” Scott said. “Frankly, I think more about TV and what our TV windows would be and how that matches up. That’s actually the thing. I think a lot more about TV and how we’d maximize the national following, especially this week, because people are gearing up for the NCAA tournament.

“One of the things I’m very excited about in our tournament, regardless of location going forward, next year we’re with ESPN and Fox and we’re going to have more games with national clearance from our tournament along with the Pac-12 Network.

“So the total audience for the tournament next year is going to be significantly bigger than it is this year.”

The Pac-10 tournament was resurrected in 2002 after a 12-year hiatus, and only was approved by the presidents after UCLA was swayed by promises the event would be in Los Angeles. Previously, UCLA, Arizona and Stanford were roadblocks to approval, which required eight of 10 votes.

Montgomery said he’s a little surprised the event has not been more successful.

“I don’t know that people necessarily want to go hang out in L.A. I’m not being critical. If their team’s not really, really good and they don’t have a chance to win it, a lot of people want say, `We’ll just pass,’ ” he said.

“If USC and UCLA aren’t good, then your crowd’s not very good. If UCLA’s in the top-5, top-10 and people anticipate they’re going to win, there’s going to be a good crowd, but then it’s going to be an all-UCLA crowd.”

If it’s Oregon State vs. Washington State, as was the case early Wednesday afternoon, the word “crowd” doesn’t really apply.

Jeff Faraudo