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Could Reno eventually host the Mountain West Tournament with new arena?

Could Reno play host to the MWC Tournament in the future? Let’s examine!

Reno, Nevada, The Biggest Little City In The World. Photo by Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

If all goes to plan, the Nevada Wolf Pack are expected to have a new home by the start of the 2026-27 season, as the Grand Sierra Resort is planning on privately investing $1 billion into a new home arena for the Wolf Pack men’s basketball team, Nevada Sports Net first reported Wednesday.

The state-of-the-art arena is expected to seat over 10,000 people, which is slightly smaller than Nevada’s Lawlor Events Center (about 12,000), the current host to Wolf Pack men’s and women’s basketball games. The $1 billion investment will also include a new 800-room hotel on the property, at least one parking garage and hundreds of affordable units.

But could this be home to the new Mountain West Tournament, whose partnership with Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas expires after this season?

Thomas & Mack Center, which can seat up to nearly 20,000 people, has hosted the men’s and women’s tournaments since 2000. On the surface, it appears unlikely that the Mountain West would stray away from arguably its biggest media market with T-Mobile Arena on the Vegas Strip, MGM Grand Garden Arena and the Michelob Ultra Center nearby as secondary options if T&M doesn’t renew.

Even though it’s not a huge disparity, in the off-chance that Washington State and Oregon State did eventually join the Mountain West, you could make an argument that Reno makes the most logical sense, geographically speaking, to host the conference tournament.

The city will also offer a multi-venue versatility—tournament games could be played in Lawlor Events Center—which will play host to the Wolf Pack’s women’s basketball program for the foreseeable future—plus this new arena, if it chooses to.

Though the biggest roadblock would be when the University of Nevada would, if at all? The new arena will not be built, supposedly, until 2026-27, when a new contract for the tournament will likely be in place, likely in Las Vegas, where the tournament’s been for all but two years since the turn of the century.

“The city of Las Vegas and the Thomas & Mack Center have been outstanding locations for the Mountain West basketball championships,” Gloria Nevarez, the Mountain West commissioner, said recently, according to Sportico. “The league is considering all options for the future site and location of the MW basketball championships. Las Vegas and the T&M will be at the top of the consideration list for 2025 and beyond.”

Reno will also be a more viable option to host NCAA Tournament games with their state-of-the-art venue—which will drive plenty of revenue into the state. Las Vegas will also play host to the Frozen Four in 2026 and to the Final Four in 2028, but don’t be surprised if Reno enters the bid to be a potential tournament host in the future once the aforementioned (proposed) arena is fully constructed.

“This is an incredible and historic investment by Mr. Meruelo and a true game-changer for our community,” Reno mayor Hillary Schieve said, via release. “It’s a massive win for our citizens, a win for the University of Nevada and a win for tourism. Thank you Mr. Meruelo for your vision and faith in our great community.”