Seniors Morgan Henderson (left) and Brandon Johnson (right).
July 22, 2009
SAN BRUNO, Calif. - The West Coast Conference and Orleans Arena announced today a three-year contract extension that will keep the WCC Men's and Women's Basketball Championships in Las Vegas through 2012.
The extension comes after the West Coast Conference sold out the Orleans Arena for the 2009 WCC Basketball Championships. The 2009 championship, which was the WCC's first-ever at a neutral site, set conference records for both total championship attendance (33,320) and single session championship attendance (7,845).
"I am very pleased that the West Coast Conference and The Orleans Arena have agreed to extend our partnership for the next three years," said Jamie Zaninovich, Commissioner of the West Coast Conference. "Thanks to the efforts of The Orleans management and staff, our 2009 basketball championship was an overwhelming success and we expect to improve upon the experience for our student-athletes, coaches and fans with this contract extension."
The agreement will bring the WCC Basketball Championships to the Orleans Arena on March 5-8 of 2010, March 4-7 of 2011, and March 2-5 of 2012.
The 2010 WCC Championships will feature the same format as the 2009 event, with a combined total of 14 men's and women's games over four days. Tickets for the 2010 championship will go on sale to the general public on Friday, November 13.
"We are thrilled about the return of the WCC to the Orleans Arena and look forward to again hosting their conference championship in 2010, 2011 and 2012," said Darren Davis, Orleans Arena Executive Director. "The Orleans Arena has established itself as the leading neutral site college basketball venue in Las Vegas and we are very proud of our success and look forward to the fantastic seasons ahead."
The Gonzaga Bulldogs won the 2009 WCC Men's Basketball Championship by defeating the Saint Mary's Gaels 83-58. In addition to being played in front of a sold-out crowd of 7,845 at the Orleans Arena, the game was seen in nearly 1.1 million homes on ESPN, was carried on over 125 stations on the Westwood One Radio Network, and was also heard live on Sirius Satellite Radio.
"Las Vegas and the Orleans did a phenomenal job of hosting the WCC tourney, and we look forward to going back in the years to come," Gonzaga men's basketball head coach Mark Few said.
In the 2009 WCC Women's Basketball Championship, Gonzaga claimed the title and automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament with a 66-55 win over defending champion San Diego in a game that was nationally televised by ESPNU.
"I am thrilled that the WCC has reached an agreement with the Orleans to host the WCC Championships through 2011-2012," San Diego women's basketball head coach Cindy Fisher said. "We had an outstanding experience last year and felt like the Orleans went above and beyond to make their first year hosting the event a success. We are looking forward to returning to Las Vegas and we know that the Orleans and the WCC staff will make it a first class experience for our student athletes and fans."
USD men's basketball head coach Bill Grier also is excited about the WCC championships returning to the Orleans Arena. "I think it's great that the WCC has signed with the Orleans Arena for three more years. I thought last year's event was extremely well run, and playing the WCC championships in a neutral venue like this, gives our conference that big time tourney feel. I think Las Vegas is a great city and it provides a great draw of fans of all the league's institutions."
The WCC, in conjunction with the Orleans Arena, also launched the WCC Hall of Honor and the Zappos.com/Soles4Souls Shoe Drive at the 2009 championships.
The inaugural WCC Hall of Honor class of Frank Burgess, Hank Gathers, Doug Christie, Clive Charles, Tom Meschery, Bernie Bickerstaff, Joe Ellis and Carroll Williams was inducted prior to Saturday's quarterfinal games. The 2010 WCC Hall of Honor brunch will be held on Saturday, March 6, 2010, and tickets to the brunch will go on sale to the public this winter.
The Zappos.com/Soles4Souls Shoe Drive was a season-long initiative during the 2008-09 basketball campaign that resulted in the donation of over 5,200 pairs shoes both domestically (to the Clark County School District and Las Vegas After School All-Star Program) and internationally. The WCC, Zappos.com and Soles4Souls will team up for the shoe drive again in 2010 with the event culminating before the women's basketball championship game on Monday, March 8.
"Our vision for the West Coast Conference basketball championships is to create an event which serves as a celebration of the conference, its traditions and values," Zaninovich said. "The Hall of Honor brunch and the WCC/Soles4Souls Shoe Drive powered by Zappos.com help us execute upon this vision and they will be essential elements of the championships for many years to come."
2010 WCC Basketball Championships Calendar (game/event times TBA)
Friday, March 5 Opening Round Games
Saturday, March 6 Hall of Honor Brunch
Saturday, March 6 Quarterfinals
Sunday, March 7 Semifinals
Monday, March 8 WCC/Soles4Souls Shoe Drive powered by Zappos.com
Monday, March 8 Championship Games