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Pac-12: Move to Las Vegas successful

Published March 18, 2013 11:30 am

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Arizona coach Sean Miller and a bunch of Wildcat fans left Las Vegas in disgust last weekend, but just about anyone else would have to say the Pac-12's initial venture to the MGM Grand Garden Arena was a success.

Attendance increased significantly from last year's Pac-12 men's basketball tournament in Los Angeles. The numbers would have been even bigger if Arizona had advanced to Saturday's championship game. But the Wildcats lost to UCLA by two points in the semifinals, triggering an outburst from Miller, whose technical foul proved to be critical. According to the Pac-12 news release announcing a $25,000 fine, Miller confronted a referee on the court and a conference official in the hallway of the arena after the game, protesting his treatment.

With most of the Arizona fans departing at that point, Saturday's championship game between Oregon and UCLA attracted only 11,101 fans - down from the near-capacity crowd of 13,151 for the semifinals. That figure was even less than the attendance for last year's title game.

But overall, Las Vegas proved to be a good destination. The average attendance for the six sessions over four days was 10,625 - nearly 2,000 above last year's number. The atmosphere was outstanding, particularly for the semifinals.

The Pac-12's contract with the MGM Grand runs through 2015.