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Sunday, March 9, 2014 - 5:32pm
EL PASO (KDBC) — The 2014 Conference USA Tournament rolls into El Paso on Tuesday, bringing 31 men's and women's basketball teams, their fans, and a big dollar boost for the Sun City.
Organizers have estimated the week-long tournament - which will take place at UTEP's Don Haskins Center and Memorial Gym - will bring $3.5 million in economic impact to El Paso with teams and guests staying at local hotels and eating at local restaurants.
The Sun City hosted the tournament in 2011.
El Paso Sports Commission CEO Brian Kennedy said 2014 is expected to draw bigger crowds.
"There are actually more teams than there were last time (the tournament) came to town because the conferences readjusted," Kennedy said.
Organizers, including the Commission and the City of El Paso have banked on a bigger draw this time around. If the tournament fails to bring in at least $500,000 in revenue, the City could be forced to make up a portion of the difference.
Per a prior tournament agreement, the Sports Commission, which gets its funding from the County of El Paso's hotel occupancy tax, would cover the initial $50,000 of any revenue shortfall while the rest would be split between the County and the City.
At a February City Council Meeting, Kennedy informed a curious El Paso Mayor Oscar Leeser that the Commission would also cover any shortfalls on the County's end.
Kennedy, confident that the tournament will reach its revenue goals, then extended the same offer to the City.
After discussion, the council ultimately voted 7-0 to move forward with the tournament minus any financial aid from the Sports Commission.
At the time, Kennedy said his confidence was boosted by favorable ticket sales.
"(Sales) are going great," he said. "We're a little ahead of where we were the last time Conference USA was here, so we're excited."