RSCVA, UNR bid $1.05 million for WAC basketball tourneys

It's too early to estimate the economic impact of the Western Athletic Conference basketball tournament in Reno in 2009 and 2010.

But one thing is certain: Organizers are betting the number is well north of $1.05 million.

That's the amount that the Reno-Sparks Convention and Visitors Authority and the University of Nevada, Reno, bid to win the tournament.

Here's how it breaks down:

* Each participating school will get $60,000 for the participation of its men's basketball team and $60,000 for its women's team. (Organizers make a big deal out of the equal treatment for men's and women's teams.) UNR won't take the money.

* If a team wins in the first round of the tournament, the school gets another $5,000. The two teams in each of the final games get yet another $7,500. And the WAC championship, both women's and men's, will pay another $10,000 from RSCVA and UNR.

Organizers declined last week to spell out how the financial obligations will be divvied up between UNR and the tourism agency, although they noted that they expect corporate sponsors hotels, casinos and the like to pick up most of the tab.

The payback will come as visitors spend money on hotel rooms, restaurant meals and elsewhere in the community.

Some 55,600 tickets were sold to WAC tournament games in 2006, the last time the event was scheduled in Reno. Ellen Oppenheim, the president and chief executive officer of RSCVA, noted that the lion's share of crowds at the games come from out of town.

The region benefits, too, from the television exposure that accompanies the tournament, Oppenheim said.

The WAC basketball tournament previously was conducted in Reno in 2005 and 2006. The city hosted the tournament of the Big West Conference, UNR's previous affiliation, from 1996-2000.

The 2009 WAC tournament is scheduled March 10-14, with the 2010 event set for March 9-13.


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