When the state high school basketball tournament returns to Las Vegas this week it will have a more intimate setting.
Cox Pavilion will be the primary site for the tournament, which begins on Thursday.
Orleans Arena had hosted the state tournament the last six times it was in Las Vegas. Orleans Arena had a capacity of 6,200, but Cox Pavilion seats only 2,500 for basketball.
“We don’t know if we’ll be turning people away,” NIAA assistant director Donnie Nelson said. “It will be a first-come, first-seat. We are general admission only. If we get to a capacity level, people will not be able to enter until other people leave.”
The Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association had to find a new home for the tournament because its title sponsor is Station Casinos Inc. The Orleans is owned by Boyd Gaming Corp. and balked at hanging banners for a competitor.
Nelson said South Point Arena wasn’t available, and other arenas in the area either weren’t available or were too expensive.
That left the NIAA looking at Cox Pavilion or playing the tournament entirely at high school sites.
“We wanted to have a showcase venue,” Nelson said. “The Cox is a showcase venue. It’s a unique building that you drive up to. And it has fixed seats, so people can actually have a designated area. Those are the two main reasons.”
The Class 4A and 3A brackets will be played entirely at Cox Pavilion. The 2A and 1A brackets will have semifinals at Del Sol and Durango High Schools, respectively. Championships in all classes will be played at Cox.
“I certainly appreciate the UNLV people, them stepping up and clearing the schedule so we could get in there,” Nelson said.
Contact prep sports editor Damon Seiters at email@example.com or 702-380-4587. Follow @DamonSeiters on Twitter.