Commissioner Larry Scott says conference has had talks with other cities but leaves open possibility that tournament could return after arena is completed.
With the Oak View Group planning to begin the $600 million, two-year-long renovation project at KeyArena by the end of the year, the Pac-12 women’s basketball tournament will have to find a new home.
The Pac-12 has held its women’s basketball tournament at KeyArena since 2013, and was contracted to remain through 2019. But the arena’s pending remodel has forced the league to look for a new venue.
Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott said Sunday before the championship game that the conference is still looking into options, but indicated that the conference has liked having the women’s basketball tournament in Seattle, and would not be opposed to a return after the arena project is completed.
“I expect we’ll certainly leave it open as a possibility,” Scott said, referring to whether the conference would bring the women’s basketball tournament back to Seattle when the arena remodel is done.
Most Read Sports Stories
- Since announcing its team name, the Seattle Kraken has made monster sales. Here's why. VIEW
- Pete Carroll: Conscience of players, coaches serves as bubble for Seahawks' COVID-19 prevention
- The top 5 things we learned from Seahawks coach Pete Carroll's Monday news conference
- How will the Seahawks use Marquise Blair and Jordyn Brooks this season? Pete Carroll has ideas
- Seahawks mailbag: Is there a deadline for a Jadeveon Clowney decision?
In the meantime, however, “We’ve had conversations with different cities,” Scott said. “We’re very far along in the process, but not done, so (we’re) not in the position to announce where we’re going.
“What we’ll probably do is commit somewhere for two years and then see how things go here and have fresh conversations and see where we wind up and how that works.”
Scott said the conference has considered moving the women’s tournament to Las Vegas, where the men’s basketball tournament will take place next week at the T-Mobile Arena.
The Pac-12 moved its women’s basketball tournament from Los Angeles to Seattle in 2013, and has enjoyed its run in the Pacific Northwest, Scott said, citing the presence of the Seattle Storm and its ownership group, Force 10 Enterprises, as strong advocates and proficient marketers for women’s basketball.
“There’s a lot of things that have worked,” Scott said. “First of all, we have partners here in the market year-round marketing women’s basketball, and that has been a great thing. Force 10 and the Seattle Storm, they know the market, they know pockets of interest for women’s basketball and it’s a high priority for them.”
Also, it doesn’t hurt that the Pac-12 women’s tournament six-year run in Seattle has coincided with the ascendance of the Pacific Northwest schools’ women’s basketball programs.
Oregon State has played in the championship game three times in Seattle, 2017 saw the UW Huskies become one of the most successful entertaining women’s basketball teams in the country, and Oregon made its first ever appearance in a Pac-12 women’s basketball final against Stanford on Sunday night.
“UW and Kelsey Plum’s incredible run and the team generated a lot of interest, and Oregon and Oregon State have turned out great, great crowds. That’s been helpful as well,” Scott said. “And (Seattle) is a great sports city generally, and a great city that people like coming to visit.
“We felt like we’ve had great traction and building momentum. This is a bit of a hiccup for us to hit the pause button in Seattle.”
• In the wake of a federal investigation last fall that revealed widespread corruption in college basketball, the Pac-12 created a task force in November to study the issues that were raised and to generate policy recommendations to the NCAA.
Scott said the Pac-12 board members will review a preliminary report from the task force next week during the men’s basketball tournament in Las Vegas.
Scott said he was both discouraged and encouraged by some of the task force’s findings.
“I’m discouraged to understand the scope of some of the problems in men’s college basketball, but I’m encouraged because I do think there are real solutions that can mitigate a lot of problems.”
Scott said he’d like to see the end of the one-and-done culture in men’s college basketball and see a new rule implemented that allows high-school players to go straight to the NBA instead of having to spend a year playing college basketball before jumping to the pros.
“Those who go the college route should stay three years at least, similar to the model in baseball or the NFL,” Scott said. “I think baseball has got it right. I think that’s the best model and one that would work very well in basketball. That way, no one is forced to play college basketball if they’re not interested.”
• The stalemate between the Pac-12 and DirecTV continues.
“There hasn’t been any recent positive developments,” Scott said on the status of ongoing talks between the Pac-12 Network and DirecTV, the biggest cable provider that does not have a distribution agreement with the Pac-12. “I’m not optimistic there’s gonna be any positive development any time soon.”