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VEGAS LIKELY TO BE WAC HOOP HOST

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The expanded Western Athletic Conference Council, that includes future additions Nevada-Las Vegas, Rice, San Jose State, Southern Methodist, Texas Christian and Tulsa, recommended Monday that the 1997 and 1998 men's and women's basketball tournaments be held in Las Vegas.

Though subject to the approval of the Conference Council of Presidents, the arrangement includes an option for a third year at the 18,500-seat Thomas & Mack Center on the University of Nevada-Las Vegas campus."Las Vegas provides an outstanding venue for showcasing WAC men's and women's basketball for numerous reasons," said WAC commissioner Karl Benson. "It's a destination city for fans, it is accustomed to hosting first-class events and it provides the WAC with one of the nation's premier facilities. In addition to the financial benefits, Las Vegas has designed an exceptional marketing plan that adds to its attraction as a host city."

A $1 million per tournament guarantee likely gave Las Vegas the financial nod over bids by Albuquerque, Dallas and Denver.

"The guarantee eliminates the question of whether the event will be financially successful," Benson told the Dallas Morning News.

Also in Las Vegas' favor was its central location, the anticipation of a revival of Nevada-Las Vegas basketball that could make the city a "hotbed" of college basketball and the city's willingness to embrace the women's tournament, Benson said.

"We are pleased and flattered about the confidence that the WAC has shown in the City of Las Vegas by permitting us to host such a prestigious championship," said Tucker DiEdwardo, president of Las Vegas Events.

No decision was reached regarding the site of the WAC Football Championship.

Dallas, El Paso and Las Vegas have bid for the event, which will be played in 1996. Benson said that will take at least another week to be resolved - though he hinted to the Morning News that El Paso was the front-runner because of its proven ability to draw good crowds.