OGDEN, Utah — The Big Sky Conference and the Reno-Sparks Convention and Visitors Authority announced Friday a three-year agreement that will bring the league’s basketball championships to Reno, Nevada.
Starting in 2016, the Big Sky Conference Men’s and Women’s Basketball Championships will be played downtown at the Reno Events Center. The REC was constructed in 2005 and can accommodate roughly 5,000 fans in a basketball configuration.
Big Sky Conference Commissioner Doug Fullerton and Deputy Commissioner Ron Loghry traveled to Reno on Friday for an on-site announcement.
“This was an exhaustive process,’’ said Big Sky Conference Commissioner Doug Fullerton. “Reno, as a city, and the folks that we worked with did a spectacular job in representing their community. We’re extremely excited about going to Reno for our championships. I used to travel to Reno often, and one thing that always impressed me about the community is it’s a lot like the communities we have in the Big Sky. It’s a very similar feel. I know we’re going to be welcomed. The coaches and the fans attending are going to feel very good about coming to Reno.”
All 12 men’s and all 12 women’s teams from the conference will participate in the championship. The dates and tournament format will be announced at a later date.
“It is a great honor for Reno to be chosen as the host city for the Big Sky Conference Men’s and Women’s Basketball Championship for the next three years,” said Reno Tahoe USA President and CEO Christopher Baum. “We’re looking forward to providing a modern, neutral, high capacity playing facility for this prestigious sporting event, and we eagerly anticipate hosting the thousands of athletes, coaches and spectators it will draw through 2018.”
Moving to a predetermined, neutral site for its men’s and women’s basketball championships ends more than two decades of the Big Sky Conference awarding its conference tournament to the regular-season champion. The league has also limited the number of participants in the championship. In 2015, the top eight men’s and women’s teams qualified.
The Big Sky Conference announced in 2014 that it would accept bids from cities interested in hosting the tournaments. Seven communities submitted bids to host either the men’s or women’s tournaments, or both. Five finalists were selected by a committee comprised of a university president, two athletics directors, a senior woman administrator, a faculty athletic representative and an outside consultant. The committee toured each city and venue in February and March, and then forwarded a recommendation to conference administrators and university presidents.
“Our committee looked at a number of different criteria,’’ said Big Sky Deputy Commissioner Ron Loghry, who spearheaded the year-long process. “Finding a neutral home for our championships was one of, if not the most important, pieces of the puzzle. All of the cities we visited did a tremendous job showcasing their cities and venues.
“Our committee is confident Reno provides us the best opportunity to showcase our men’s and women’s basketball programs in a neutral, predetermined setting,’’ Loghry added. “Our student-athletes and coaches will have a great experience, as will our fans, who will be able to enjoy all there is to do in the Reno Tahoe area.’’
— Big Sky Conference