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Pac-12's Larry Scott 'can certainly imagine' Maverik Center as long-term home for gymnastics championship

Pac-12's Larry Scott 'can certainly imagine' Maverik Center as long-term home for gymnastics championship

(Holli Joyce, KSL.com)


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SALT LAKE CITY — The Pac-12 announced weeks ago that the league’s women’s gymnastics championship would have a new home at West Valley City’s Maverik Center for the next three years.

“There’s been discussion about it for some time,” Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott said Friday ahead of the Utah-Arizona football game.

The conference already had several programs consistently competing at an elite level — seven of the eight programs advanced to last year’s post season and four qualified for semifinals — so any upgrade to the league's championship needed a podium as the next step.

“There was a desire at the Pac-12 championship to have similar conditions to what they experience at the NCAA championship, and that includes a podium,” Scott said. “We didn’t have one at one of our schools. We started thinking, ‘What can we do to elevate the Pac-12 women’s gymnastics championship?’”

While discussing possible upgrades, in addition to what the league was already doing by televising multiple meets every week, the Pac-12 looked for a venue that could serve as a neutral site while meeting that podium requirement.

Local gymnastics personnel soon contacted the Maverik Arena to gauge their interest as a possible host to the championship site, according to Maverik Center controller Jim Fuoco.

“(They) told us that the Pac-12 was looking to relocate (the gymnastics championship) and that if we could put a podium together they thought we’d have a pretty strong opportunity to pick up the event,” Fuoco said. “It’s been an ongoing process, probably for a year we’ve been talking.”

Fuoco said the Utah Sports Commission, Visit Salt Lake and the city of West Valley and their financial support made it so the whole thing could coem together. Though the Maverik Center has a 3-year agreement, Scott didn’t rule out the 9,000-seat arena as a permanent site for the championship.

“We have a 3-year initial agreement, which I think gives us plenty of time to see how it works. But I can certainly imagine us being there long term,” Scott said. “There are some neutral site championships that rotate. There are others that wind up in places for a long time because it’s a natural home. This obviously has a lot of potential for that.”

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So why a neutral site in Utah? Scott said the Red Rocks’ educated, supportive crowds had a big role in it. Though the Maverik Center isn’t a far drive from the University of Utah’s campus, the event will be a neutral site because it isn’t owned by the university and the gymnasts don’t compete there.

“A neutral site close to a fan base that we know will support the event with a podium and our student-athletes will make for a big-time atmosphere and more akin to what they’ll experience at the NCAA championship,” Scott said.

With five months until the event, the pieces are already coming together. Fuoco said the podium and equipment have already arrived and the Maverik Center is preparing to do a few more modifications and a “dry run with all parties” in December for “everybody to come and look at it to see what they think so we’re ready to go come the event.”

The women’s gymnastics championship is scheduled for Saturday, March 23.

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