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Miner teams out of Conference USA tournament, not expected to have major overall impact on attendance

By: Genevieve Curtis

EL PASO, Texas--Conference USA will crown champions in mens and womens hoops this weekend but neither the Miner men nor womens teams will be playing in those games.
UTEP officials said its no secret that if the hometown teams were playing, the Don Haskins Center would be packed and crowds will be smaller on Saturday as a result.
But the elimination of the Miners isnt expected to have a major overall impact on attendance or ticket sales.
Chris Meliniotis brought his granddaughter out to experience college basketball for the first time.
He said he planned to be in the stands Saturday had either Miner team advanced to the semifinals or finals.
Oh absolutely, total support of the Miners, he said.
But now with the Miners missing in action, Maybe, we might come. Well have to see what happens.
Despite what may looks like small crowds, Conference USA said they're looking at attendance as a win.
We think this has been a tremendous success, we're back, we were here in 201(??). We've really had some great crowds come out, said Courtney Archer, the Conference USA associate commissioner.
Despite the Miner losses, ticket sales may not suffer as much Saturday. (Thats because the womens game is free and was (is or was?) going to be free as a thank you to the community even before the minerMiner women lost Friday afternoon.
Well one thing we have noticed about El Paso is that people really seem to love this sport, and want to support it and weve had tremendous hospitality here so we think there will still be a good crowd, said Archer.
Plus there are promotional events to encourage attendance at the mens games on Saturday.
If the tournament doesn't meet revenue guarantees, the city and county are on the hook to pick up the tab but Brain Kennedy with the El Paso sports commission said thats unlikely.
Even if there is a shortfall, Kennedy said the sports commission has pledged to pick up the tab so the local government doesnt have to.
Even with the Miners off the floor, Meliniotis said its still worth grabbing a seat at the Don this weekend.
I think its great for the city of El Paso, the Conference USA tournament is a great tournament, it represents a lot of the nice things in El Paso. I think everyone should come out to the city and the tournament, said Meliniotis.
Archer said talks will begin soon on where they will hold the Conference USA tournament next year.
She said if UTEP wants to host it next year, it would certainly be a great contender.
The announcement on the 2015 location will come this summer.

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