Early attendance numbers and response from coaches and teams have shown keeping the tournament in Seattle should be no problem.
Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott held his first formal roundtable regarding women’s basketball on Saturday. He covered topics ranging from officiating to this season’s switch to playing traditional rivals twice in the same week.
The important nugget was that he wants to keep the Pac-12 tournament in Seattle. Force 10 Sports Marketing, a business arm of the Seattle Storm ownership group, has a three-year agreement with the conference to host the event.
“I think with an event like this, its best outcome is if it works in a particular market you can nurture it and build it,” Scott said, adding the three-year deal is needed to see if Seattle can be that city. “The better analogy for an event like this would be what some cities have done with other sporting events — an Omaha with baseball as an example. That’s an event that has had unique success in a particular market. It’s kept there, it’s built up and it’s become a destination.”
Early attendance numbers and response from coaches and teams have shown keeping the tournament in Seattle should be no problem. The event has already totaled 10,117 fans in two days.
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In the event’s four-day span in Los Angeles last year, it totaled 7,720 fans overall splitting play at USC’s Galen Center and Staples Center, working around the men’s tournament games.
However, the solid numbers this week included locals Washington, a fifth seed, and Washington State, an eighth seed, advancing to the quarterfinal round Friday. Scott wanted to wait until the conclusion of Saturday’s games for a better benchmark of whether Washingtonians will attend simply for the quality of the games, especially since there are four nationally-ranked teams vying for a slot in the championship game Sunday.
Regarding teams playing rivals twice in the same week like Washington and Washington State in January, the reaction from coaches was a simple, “They didn’t love that,” Scott said bluntly.
UW coach Kevin McGuff tried to find a positive in having an easy scout with the quick turnaround. But the Huskies also had to play three games in five days.
Coaches and the Pac-12 brass are meeting in May to make possible tweaks. The changes were ultimately made to televise 60 women’s games and move the tournament up a week for more exposure in NCAA tournament selection evaluations.
Pac-12 Networks will see a nominal profit this season, according to Scott.