Las Vegas is the new site for the Pac-12 Conference Men's Basketball Tournament this..."/> Las Vegas is the new site for the Pac-12 Conference Men's Basketball Tournament this..."/>

New UNLV Stadium To Host Pac-12 Championship? Pt I


Las Vegas is the new site for the Pac-12 Conference Men’s Basketball Tournament this year, could the conferences’ football championship be headed the same direction?

The title suggests something that hasn’t been mentioned in any capacity just yet, so don’t start to jump out of your chair and spill your coffee, but it’s something that I think could eventually be discussed due to the nature and location of the building.

This is a pretty drawn out thought, so I’m going to go about it in three parts over the next three days. Today I want to go over what this means to UNLV in general, tomorrow we’ll tackle my thoughts on our championship format from one Washington State perspective, and then Thursday we’ll examine what it would mean to the Pac-12 conference to have a neutral site championship game.

Last Friday in this article we learned of the planned 60,000 seat, closed roof stadium in Vegas that is dual-modeled after Cowboy Stadium and the 2012 London Olympic Stadium. The rumor has been circulating for at least a couple years now that UNLV was thinking about an on campus stadium, and now it looks like it’s taking shape. Taking a look at the stadium renderings, this thing is fit to be absolutely SICK! For those of you not associated with the lingo, that’s basically outrageously awesome.

Potentially it will be able to host a variety of large-scale championship events. The venue would also come fully equipped with a 100 yard video board that would outsize the current video board in Dallas (currently the largest in the world) by a whopping 40 yards! The stadium project, labeled “UNLV Now”,has a possible opening date of 2017 if it’s approved by regents and moved forward quickly, so it’s still a little ways off but the ideas are flowing.

Obviously this venue would become the new site of UNLV football, which will be HUGE for that program. My personal anticipation is that UNLV football will start to grow next year with this project coming down the pipe and will be up to speed with the popularity contests of SDSU, Nevada, Hawaii, Fresno State and Boise State by the 2nd or 3rd year of the venues’ existence. I’m not saying they’ll be winning conference titles necessarily, but I think they’ll be highly competitive in the upper tier of the Mountain West Conference by that time because of this.

Kids love the newest toy and “UNLV Now” is presenting the biggest of them all. They will absolutely eat up the experience of the site on their visits and I think the campus instantly becomes amazing with the addition of this venue. Remember that Sam Boyd Stadium, the current home of the Rebels, is located in Whitney, NV which is an unincorporated community of Las Vegas in the valley. In all fairness, it’s in the middle of nowhere and it’s too far off campus to be easily accessible to students and/or alumni wanting to stay in Vegas, and really there’s nothing special about it.

The football program has been down for a number of years. It’s partly due to the economic value shifting of the nation lately, but also due to lack of accessibility to the team by its fans. If you’ve watched football games there lately, you’d never know they had enough fans to pack a place half the size of this proposed venue. But I’m telling you students and alumni would flock to this place to watch their team play on a weekly basis and I believe they would draw like only few teams in the West can.

As basketball has shown us in the past, they are a sleeping giant in major college sports. That giant is about to wake up.

Look forward to Pt II tomorrow. Give us some of your thoughts on the venue after looking through the renderings and it’s meaning to UNLV athletics.