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Big East officials discuss moving women's hoops tourney

UNCASVILLE, Conn. -- Unable to fill the 16,000-seat Hartford
Civic Center for their women's basketball tournament, Big East
officials have talked about moving the event 45 miles southeast to
the Mohegan Sun Casino and its 10,000-seat arena.

The conference is locked in to the Civic Center through 2009,
but will make a decision in the next year about where to hold the
three-day tournament after that, said Big East spokeswoman Rachel
Margolis.

The size of the venue, proximity to Big East schools, the locker
rooms, availability of hotel rooms, and fan accessibility are all
issues the conference will consider, Margolis said.

Hartford, Conn., remains an option for the tournament, which may
also consider other sites, such as Tampa, Fla.

The Big East has no policy against holding events at a casino.

"Some of the schools might have their own rule or policy," she
said. "We will do the legwork. The final decision will be made by
the school athletic directors and presidents."

There is no sports book at the casino, so nobody would be
betting on the games. UConn women's basketball coach Geno Auriemma,
who has a restaurant at the casino, said he sees no problem with
holding the event at a gambling establishment.

"Say what you want, if you are going to take money from them as
corporate sponsors, you can't have it both ways," Auriemma said.
"If you are going to let beer companies sponsor you, and you are
going to let casinos be corporate sponsors, then you can't have it
the other way and say, 'Well we're not going to play any games
there because there is gambling there.'"

Auriemma points out that the Mountain West Conference plays its
tournament in Las Vegas.

The Mohegan Sun Arena is the home court for the WNBA's
Connecticut Sun and has hosted college basketball in the past,
including a game between Central Connecticut and Massachusetts men
last December. Patrons can enter the arena without going through
the casino.