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Pac-12 men’s basketball tournament moving to Las Vegas

The Pac-12 Conference’s men’s basketball tournament will move from Los Angeles to the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas beginning in 2013, the conference announced Tuesday.

The new agreement runs through 2015. Previously, the Pac-12 held its men’s tournament in downtown Los Angeles for 11 years, but that agreement expired this year.

Rumors had surfaced that the league was going to move the tournament to Las Vegas, and Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott said he received “overwhelming” positive feedback from fans about the possible move.

“We were lucky that we had a lot of interest and a lot of models to look at, but there is a clear difference between being in a destination like Las Vegas that has 40 million tourists and is known as a big-time sporting and entertainment destination … and is a neutral site,” Scott said during a conference call. “We thought this was an option that would appeal to all of our fan bases equally.”

The league hopes a change of scenery will infuse some energy into a tournament that has drawn poor attendance and created little buzz in recent years while at Staples Center.

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“Compared to Staples, I think the fan experience, especially with the energy and the closeness to the court, will be exceptional,” said President of Las Vegas Events Pat Christenson.

Said Arizona Coach Sean Miller: “It’s just a magnetic location that to me will bring people to the game.”

The 2013 tournament will be played March 13-16. All of the tournament games will be televised nationally on ESPN, FOX and the Pac-12 Network, which launch in August 2012.

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