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Originally published June 30, 2011 at 7:13 PM | Page modified June 30, 2011 at 10:34 PM

Seattle will bid to host future Pac-12 basketball tournaments

The men's tournament would be played at KeyArena, while the women's tournament would be split between Edmunson Pavilion and KeyArena.

Seattle Times staff reporter

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The Pac-12 will hold its annual men's and women's basketball tournaments in Los Angeles next March, but the conference is seeking bids beyond 2012 and local organizers hope to lure the four-day event to Seattle.

Officials at the University of Washington, Seattle Sports Commission and Seattle Center notified the conference it wants to host the tournaments and will formally submit a proposal before the Aug. 12 deadline.

"There is an opportunity where you can bid on the men's tournament only or the women's tournament only and we're just trying to determine what's the best option for us," said Ralph Morton, executive director at the Seattle Sports Commission. "But it would be a significant impact at a time that is generally ideal for an event like this."

New Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott is open to the idea of moving the tournaments out of Los Angeles, where they've resided the past decade.

The Pac-10 held a men's tournament from 1987-90 that rotated sites before that was discontinued due to low attendance and poor revenues. The conference revived the tournament in 2002 at Staples Center.

In recent years, a handful of coaches, including Washington's Lorenzo Romar, have spoken on behalf of rotating the tournament but sponsors preferred the Los Angeles market.

Before the Pac-10 championship game last March, Scott said he planned to "explore opportunities" and "seek ideas" of what the tournament would look like in other cities.

After 2012, the conference has a five-year open window and is accepting bids to host the tournaments. Los Angeles and Phoenix have informally expressed interest, according to a Pac-12 official.

Seattle's proposal would hold the men's tournament at KeyArena while the women's tournament would play the first two days at Edmundson Pavilion before moving to KeyArena.

"We're excited about the opportunity to bring a tournament that could have a great impact not only just for the Seattle Center and KeyArena, but also the surrounding community," Marc Avery Jones, Director of Marketing and Business Development at the Seattle Center.

KeyArena is the home of the Seattle University men's basketball team and Gonzaga's annual Battle in Seattle.

Morton estimates the Pac-12 tournaments would draw 6,000-7,000 fans to Seattle.

The SSC is also hosting the NCAA swimming championships in March 2012, the Olympic diving trials next June and the NCAA women's volleyball championships December 2013 at KeyArena.

"We're looking to add some more events and ones that have a significant impact," Morton said. "The Pac-12 men's and women's tournaments would be a great addition to the community."

Percy Allen: 206-464-2278 or pallen@seattletimes.com

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