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C-USA calls presser at The Star; sources indicate venue to host hoops tourney

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Brett Vito, Staff Writer

Conference USA has scheduled a press conference for Tuesday at The Star in Frisco to announce an upcoming event at the Ford Center.   

Multiple sources indicated to the Denton Record-Chronicle on Friday that the announcement will be that the C-USA basketball tournaments will be held at the venue in 2018.

The Record-Chronicle previously reported that The Star was one of a small number of venues that had put in a bid to host the league's annual basketball championships.

The Star is a 91-acre campus that is home to the Cowboys' offices and practice facilities. The campus includes the Ford Center, a 12,000-seat venue that can be set up to include multiple basketball courts. Those courts can be in use simultaneously.

C-USA's men's and women's basketball tournaments run concurrently at the same location. The host site must have multiple courts to accommodate the event. The tournament brackets included 12 teams on both the men's and women's sides last season.

El Paso and Birmingham, Alabama, were two of the other sites that put in bids to host the tournaments, a league source said.

C-USA's athletic directors will hold their annual spring meetings May 22-24 in Destin, Florida. A C-USA source previously indicated that the conference would make an announcement on where it would hold its basketball tournaments before those meetings.

C-USA commissioner Judy MacLeod, North Texas athletic director Wren Baker, Cowboys Executive Vice President of Business Operations Chad Estis and Frisco Mayor Maher Maso are scheduled to speak at the announcement Tuesday.

Birmingham has hosted the last three C-USA tournaments. El Paso hosted in 2014.

A move to The Star would offer C-USA an attractive neutral site for its tournaments.

Frisco is within a short drive of Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport and Dallas Love Field. The Star also has a vibrant area surrounding it that features several restaurants, shops and an Omni Hotel.

The Star also is close to C-USA's headquarters in Irving.

Moving the tournament to a major market could make traveling to the event easier for teams and fans. Holding the event at a tourism destination could bolster attendance and provide the league added media exposure.

C-USA and other leagues of its stature often struggle with attendance for tournaments played at campus venues if the host team is eliminated early on.

Middle Tennessee beat Marshall in the championship game of the men's tournament last season in front of a crowd of 3,956 in Birmingham. UAB, the host team, was eliminated in a second-round game.

Frisco has aggressively pursued bringing more collegiate events to the city in recent years.  Texas Tech held its spring football game at The Star in April. Toyota Stadium, the home of FC Dallas, reportedly is set to host what was known as the Miami Beach Bowl for the next three years.

The tournaments moving to The Star would be a boost for UNT's men's and women's basketball programs. UNT's fans would be within a short drive of the C-USA tournament venue.

Both UNT programs recruit the Dallas-Fort Worth area heavily and could benefit from the added exposure playing in a tournament at The Star would provide. 

BRETT VITO can be reached at 940-566-6870 and via Twitter at @brettvito.