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Alan Snel

Fox Sports buys two Las Vegas college basketball tournaments

18 November 2015

Fox Sports is guaranteeing built-in original content to broadcast in Las Vegas by buying two college basketball tournaments that are being staged here during the holidays.

The network has purchased the Continental Tire Las Vegas Invitational, which is scheduled for Nov. 26 and 27 at Orleans Arena, and the Continental Tire Las Vegas Classic, set for Dec. 22 and 23, also at Orleans Arena.

Fox Sports will not only broadcast the basketball tournaments on FS1 but also handle team selection, ticket sales and sponsorships. Fox Sports will use its business relationships with college conferences and teams to attract future colleges to play in the tournaments.

Fox Sports had broadcast the two tournaments in 2014.

Now, the network owns them.

Financial terms were not disclosed.

"This is new. We love college. We want to be more involved in college. This deepens the relationships with the schools," said Dan Shell, vice president of Fox Collegiate Sports Properties in Los Angeles.

"This delivers content to our networks in a business model that makes sense," Shell said Tuesday. "This broadens our portfolio in college sports."

Fox Sports already broadcasts Big East college basketball games and also has rights deals to televise Pac-12 and Big 12 football games.

Fox Sports closed on the deal with Las Vegas Tournaments Inc. earlier this year to acquire the tourneys. Chris Spencer, who has worked on organizing college basketball tournaments in Las Vegas, has stayed on to help Fox Sports run the events.

"It's a business we've never done before, so we will hire outside help," Shell said. "We hope to grow the ticket base."

Fox Sports also inherits the tourneys' title sponsorships with Continental Tire, which has been the title sponsor for the past five years, said Amanda Henson, Continental Tire marketing business manager based in Fort Mill, S.C.

Continental Tire, a brand with partnerships with 28 university basketball programs, uses the games to target alumni at the participating schools, Henson said Tuesday. She noted Continental Tire already had a working relationship with Fox Sports even before the network purchased the basketball tournaments.

Next week's Continental Tire Las Vegas Invitational features eight teams, including California, West Virginia, San Diego State and Richmond.

The Continental Tire Las Vegas Classic also features eight schools, including Colorado, Southern Methodist, Penn State and Kent State.

It's common for sports networks to own sports events. Bear witness to ESPN, which owns the Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl and other college football bowl games, which are also broadcast by ESPN.

"We're excited to be part of Las Vegas. It is growing in sports," Shell said. "For us to be a small part of that is exciting for Fox Sports."