SWAC: Welcome to history in the making
For the first time in the College of Eastern Utah's history, its athletic department is hosting the Scenic West Athletic Tournament in the Bunnell-Dmitrich Athletic Center March 4-6. It is projected to bring 500 people into the community that weekend spending as much as $500,000, according to Athletic Director Dave Paur.
"We are excited to showcase our community, our school and our athletic department, Paur said. "Our men's basketball program is one of the top in the conference and have been nationally ranked this season. Our community will have the opportunity to see some of the most talented basketball teams in our conference and the nation.
"Salt Lake Community College is the defending national champions and College of Southern Idaho and North Idaho are traditionally nationally ranked," he added. "It will be the best basketball week that our residents will have the opportunity to see. Remember our conference always features some of the best two-year college basketball players in the nation. Besides the coaches and teams, we will have parents, alumni, media, booster clubs and recruiters in Price that weekend following the teams in the tournament."
Hosting the SWAC Tournament in Price will be one of the largest activities held in Carbon County.
The largest conferences to date have been Sen. Bob Bennett's business conference which posts approximately 1,500 people for the two-day conference followed by 4-H Leadermete with 750 and Taste of Home with 650, according to Carbon County Fairgrounds and Event Center statistics.
In an interview with Joel Bate, CSI athletic director, he said hosting the tournament is great for CEU's campus and community. "It's amazing for your community to have this caliber of athletic talent on your campus for three days of incredible basketball. It's like an economic stimulus surge with hotels, restaurants and shopping seeing lots of revenue."
He estimates it will cost between $35,000 and $38,000 to run the tournament. "Your community should substantial money brought into it by the tournament attendees," he said. "An added plus for CEU is with the local college hosting the tournament, the men's and women's teams will each save $5,000 in travel costs from their budgets."
The point he stressed was the importance of having the community support for the tournament. "Your community has to be behind the college in the sponsorship of this tournament for it to be successful. At CSI, our community bought 90 percent of the ticket sales. They supported all three days of the tournament."
Concerning questions, he said that most people who attend the tournament want to know where to stay, eat and what the game schedule is. "A lot of people stay all day and watch all the games. The last time CSI played SLCC in the championship game, we had 3,700 people in our gym, way over maximum capacity."
CEU's Robert Potts is the director of the three-day SWAC tournament. "It's the first time we have hosted the tournament so there's a lot of work to do to make this the best tournament the SWAC has participated in."
He designed much of the information for the tournament to be accessed online including ticket sales. This keeps the personnel cost down to manage the tournament, he said. A lot of people are donating their time from the community and the college so we can keep CEU's cost to a minimum.
He added, the CEU alumni board and students are providing much of the volunteer workforce for the tournament.
Tickets for the three-day tournament can be ordered online at www.ceu.edu/athletics/swac. Tickets for each game are $6 for general admission and $8 for reserved seats. A three-day pass to all games is $20.
The championship games are scheluled for Saturday, March 6 with the women playing at 5 p.m. and men taking the court at 7:30 p.m.