One college basketball team has won a conference tournament in Las Vegas. Three more will do the same before the week is over.
March Madness brings millions of dollars to Las Vegas by way of hotel bookings, food purchases, alcohol sales and gambling. Las Vegas is the center of the basketball universe right now, and the city is cashing in.
A sold out Orleans Arena on Monday night was the stage for the tip-off of a week of basketball. Top ranked Gonzaga met Saint Mary's for the West Coast Conference championship game.
Fans poured into town from all over and said Las Vegas is the perfect city for such a tournament.
"It's been amazing. The positive experience of the people – it's just crazy," one fan said.
"It's a great place to come for a conference. It's been so much fun," another fan said.
The West Coast Conference on Monday announced it has extended its deal with the Orleans Arena to hold its conference there through 2016. They have company. The Mountain West, PAC-12 and Western Athletic conferences hold their tournaments in town as well.
"When you look at the universities involved with the conferences, it's absolutely in our wheelhouse. They're all western universities. It's just a wonderful marketing opportunity for us," said Juloian Dugas with the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority.
Last year the Mountain West tournament alone brought $7.6 million in nongaming revenue to our city. With four tournaments in town now, that number is likely to be three times that amount.
"There couldn't be a better choice for those conferences to come to than Las Vegas. We've got everything that they need to have a very successful tournament," Dugas said.
Add in free advertising on TV and social networking updates from rabid fans and these tournaments are a gift that keeps on giving.
"We'll be here next year. This is great," a fan proclaimed.
Gonzaga beat Saint Mary's 65-51 to all but wrap up a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament. As for UNLV, they will open the Mountain West tournament against Air Force on Wednesday at the Thomas & Mack Center at noon.
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