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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Should the Pac-10 Tournament stay in LA?

    Pro: One location builds tradition


    It’s what the Big East has and what the Pac-10 is only hoping to grasp. Every year since 1983, Big East teams have migrated to basketball’s metropolis for the most-publicized conference tournament in the country.

    It doesn’t matter if it’s Georgetown-Syracuse or Providence-Seton Hall, the New York media is all over it because it’s in its backyard and it’s familiar. Every year, you know the champion will be crowned at Madison Square Garden.

    “”I was in the Big East for four years, so that’s a point of reference for me,”” said UCLA head coach Ben Howland, who won the tournament with Pittsburgh in 2003 and won the Pac-10 Tournament with the Bruins last year. “”(There’s) excitement surrounding everybody going to New York, and you know you’re doing it every year.””

    Granted the excitement in Los Angeles is not as palpable, but the city is a short plane ride from all other Pac-10 locations. You think opposing fans would rather travel to Seattle or Portland to watch their teams play or take in some games along with a vacation in Hollywood?

    Would players rather play under the retired jerseys of Tom Chambers in Phoenix or the retired jerseys of Wilt Chamberlain, Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul Jabbar, Elgin Baylor and Jerry West inLos Angeles? Would fans rather stay in the rainy Northwest, or in sunny southern California where, courtside, they might bump elbows with Jack Nicholson and the cast of “”Entourage””?

    Granted, Los Angeles-based Fox Sports Net isn’t the media conglomerate ESPN is, but moving locations would only cause the coverage to be scaled down even more.

    Now leading reporting from Portland: Leann Tweeden. We’re sorry, sending Marques Johnson was out of our budget.

    If a team wins the Pac-10 Tournament and there is no one to cover it, do fans know it really happened?

    “”When you look at Los Angeles, this is the second biggest media market in the country,”” Howland said. “”And one of the reasons you have the tournament is to create that national exposure and the buzz about the Pac-10.””

    Nowhere is there more buzz than Los Angeles. Take the Pac-10 Tournament elsewhere and the buzz will turn into silence.

    – Roman Veytsman, sports editor

    Con: Tournament should share the wealth

    UCLA head coach Ben Howland makes a persuasive case for the Pac-10 Tournament to stay in Los Angeles instead of rotating between NBA cities within the conference’s region.

    I wonder why. Could it be because the “”LA”” in “”UCLA”” happens to stand for Los Angeles?
    The truth of the matter is there is no tradition involved with the Pac-10 Tournament, which started in 2002, and Staples Center isn’t Madison Square Garden, so teams won’t be looking forward to it all season like Howland says Big East schools do their respective conference tournament in New York.

    Also, the only New York City school in that conference, St. John’s, gets mediocre fan support and hasn’t been great since the good old days of Ron Artest and Erick Barkley.

    On the other hand, if you haven’t noticed, the Pac-10’s Los Angeles schools happen to be pretty decent, first and third, respectively, this season and only getting better with both squads nabbing a top-10 recruit next season, O.J. Mayo for the Trojans and Kevin Love for the Bruins.

    As if these teams need any advantage, they know every year, rain or shine, the conference tournament will be played in their very own backyard. That’s despite the fact that NBA arenas in Phoenix, Oakland, Portland and Seattle would be ready and able to handle the event with each city’s fans excited for the once-every-five-years chance to host, which would be the case under a plan touted by UA head coach Lute Olson.

    Imagine how excited Washington fans would be this season to have the opportunity to root for their Huskies, who likely need to win the tournament to get a bid but have momentum after a home sweep of the Los Angeles schools. Portland fans would love to root on their home-state Oregon Ducks, who have won three in a row at home after slumping, Stanford fans would want the chance to root the Cardinal off the bubble and Arizona fans would flock to Phoenix to cheer on the Wildcats.

    Instead it’s played in southern California, where the Bruins have won their past 25 games.

    Last year the tournament averaged about 15,000 fans in the 20,000-capacity stadium, not counting the rows of empty seats of people who paid but didn’t show, with Staples failing to sell out the championship game even with the Bruins playing as the favorite.

    There is no tradition in Staples Center or rabid fans in Los Angeles, so regardless of where Fox Sports Net is based, Los Angeles needs to share the wealth.

    – Michael Schwartz, assistant sports editor

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