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Friday, October 17, 2014 - 11:31am

C-USA Tournament attendance down from 2011

C-USA Tournament attendance down from 2011

POSTED: Monday, March 17, 2014 - 11:24pm

UPDATED: Monday, March 17, 2014 - 11:32pm

The 2014 Conference USA Basketball Tournament is now in the history books.

So are the attendance numbers.

According to C-USA, a total of 39,123 fans attended last week's tournament, which is down from 53,328 the last time UTEP and El Paso played host in 2011.

"Overall attendance is not necessarily representative of the economic impact of the event itself," said Bryan Crowe, manager of Destination El Paso, formerly known as the Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Crowe told NewsChannel 9 that despite this year's attendance, C-USA is considering asking El Paso to bid for the 2015 tournament.

Crowe pointed out that other schools in the conference lack the quality facilities present at UTEP and lack the close proximity of the men's and women's venues, like that between the Don Haskins Center and Memorial Gym.

"The conference was very, very pleased with El Paso as a host site," he said, adding that other conference cities are also not as large as the Sun City.

"It's a huge tournament and it requires a lot of hotel rooms," Crowe said.

Organizers estimate about 4,000 out-of-town fans traveled to El Paso last week, an increase over 2011.

Final numbers, they said, will be tallied within 30 days.

As for the drop in overall attendance, Brian Kennedy, President of the El Paso Sports Commission, said all signs point to the UTEP men's early exit from tournament play as the culprit.

The Miner men were eliminated after their second game.

"Attendance in any tournament is absolutely determined by how the home team does," Kennedy told NewsChannel 9.

Crowe said while UTEP's demise may have hurt ticket sales at the Haskins Center, having two traveling teams face off in the championship meant those players, their staff and their fans lingered in El Paso longer.

"Of course we would like to see the Miners in the final game," Crowe said. "But actually, it means more visitors for us for a longer period of time if we see two out-of-town teams."

The tournament also needed to generate at least $500,000 or the City of El Paso would be forced to help make up a portion of the difference after a $50,000 contribution by the Sports Commission.

Kennedy said the City would most likely steer clear of the penalty.

"Looking at the financials," Kennedy said, "they're not finalized, but I can't see any way that we'll have to write a check."

Final box office numbers should be available within the next three weeks, he said.

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