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Gaming Guru

Laura Carroll

NBA summer league, college tourneys boost local economy

28 May 2012

by Laura Carroll

LAS VEGAS, Nevada -- Las Vegas officially has become the center of the universe, at least for basketball.

With NBA Summer League back from its strike-bound hiatus and the Pacific Life PAC-12 basketball tournament enhancing conference play next spring, Las Vegas has it all.

As tickets go on sale June 1 for NBA Summer League, attendance is expected to be above 2010's 47,000 mark with 24 teams playing. Each year since 2004, attendance and team participation has grown, and the league is working to increase it again in 2012, National Basketball Association spokeswoman Maureen Coyle said.

The last time the ballers hit the floor in Vegas, 2010 attendance hit 47,000 when 23 teams played. In 2009, 22 teams attracted 44,000 fans. Las Vegas Events does not track economic impact from summer league.

Festivities will be held at the Thomas & Mack Center and the Cox Pavilion on the campus of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas July 13-22. On July 12, USA Basketball plays at 6 p.m. The 2012 field for NBA Summer League includes the New York Knicks, Portland Trail Blazers, Los Angeles Lakers, Los Angeles Clippers and Miami Heat.

"It's really been a good event for Las Vegas," Las Vegas Events President Pat Christenson said.

The NBA, though, isn't the only game in town that's good for the local economy.

Attendance at this year's women's and men's Mountain West Conference basketball championships held in March attracted 70,025 people, down from 2011's 84,475. Las Vegas Events cited two fewer games this year as the reason. The economic impact this year from the tournaments was $10.6 million.

In 2013, the Pacific Life PAC-12 basketball tournament is scheduled to come to Las Vegas from March 13-16, marking its first time in the city. It's usually played in Los Angeles.

During college conference play, Las Vegas will welcome not only the two aforementioned tournaments, but also is retaining the West Coast Conference and the Western Athletic Conference, making it hard to compete with, in terms of basketball offerings.

"That's unprecedented for a city to have four conference basketball tournaments at one time," Christenson said.

A combination of fans and national media coverage for PAC-12, which is strongest of any of the tournaments, makes the conference a nice addition to Las Vegas' portfolio.

"Las Vegas is a mecca for all of basketball now. We probably have more basketball than any other market," Christenson said.