The Big West conference made a decision last year to move the 2022 basketball championships from Anaheim to Henderson, Nev.
The event will be held in a four-day tournament, March 8-12, at the Dollar Loan Center in Henderson.
Last year, the Honda Center in Anaheim was unable to hold the Big West basketball championships due to ongoing complications of COVID-19, so the conference championships were held at the Michelob Ultra Arena in Las Vegas.
It was there that conference officials decided the new home of this year’s basketball championships.
Dan Butterly, the commissioner of the Big West conference, said they had received great feedback from the championships being in Las Vegas last year.
As five of the six conferences in the west are based in Las Vegas, Butterly wanted to explore the idea of adding the Big West there, too.
“When we were there last year at the Michelob Ultra Arena, we got a lot of great feedback [from everyone] that this feels like a championship,” Butterly said. “So while we were there, we looked at various options. We actually stumbled upon the Dollar Loan Center that was being built in Henderson.”
The new location is a neutral site, as for most of the teams is just a quick drive to Nevada. It also offers a great atmosphere and ultimately, helped them make it a future hub for the championships.
“For the long term, this benefits the Big West in so many ways,” Butterly said. “Obviously being in a smaller building, being where the other conference championships were being held, and being with all the officials in the West will really help the Big West grow.”
The Dollar Loan Center is a multi-purpose arena. It is the home of the minor league hockey team, the Henderson Silver Knights, and the indoor football team, the Vegas Knight Hawks.
In comparison to the Honda Center, the arena is a more intimate facility that seats over 6,000 attendees.
Butterly also shared that citizens of Henderson are embracing the event and will make the teams feel excited about being there.
“Henderson is planning so many big things for us between sessions,” Butterly said. “They’re doing concerts, food trucks and interactive’s and all kinds of fun stuff that it’s unlike other conference championships in Las Vegas Valley.”
Butterly also mentioned how students from schools like Long Beach State should head to Henderson to support their teams.
“If you’re a Long Beach student, you should get over to the Dollar Loan Center and be a part of it because I think you’ll have a lot of fun,” Butterly said. “It’s going to be just an electric atmosphere.”
But the fans aren’t the only ones that should be excited.
Long Beach State athletic director Andy Fee, explained that he is excited for the crowds and atmosphere.
“I think we’re going to get a great crowd to the games,” Fee said. “It’s going to have a great feel, it’s going to be loud, it’s going to be a ruckus. It’s going to feel like a championship event should feel.”
Dan Monson, LBSU men’s basketball head coach, said what the team’s challenge will be in this four-day tournament.
“We’ve been the best team in the regular season, but now you have to go prove it in a [four-day] tournament and that’s very difficult,” Monson said. “But I think our guys are excited to do that.”
Furthermore, Monson shared how having fans this year will make a difference as opposed to last year’s empty arena.
“Last year, we didn’t have crowds,” Monson said. “They’re going to feel good about it if [they’re] supported and there’s more people in the stands and their families can go…I think it feels more like a tournament atmosphere.”
LBSU men’s and women’s basketball teams are set to arrive in Henderson, Nevada this week. The tournament will take place from March 8-12 at the Dollar Loan Center.