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Ogden • The Big Sky Conference announced Friday a three-year agreement to play the league's basketball tournaments in Reno.

Starting in 2016, the men's and women's tournaments will be played at the Reno Events Center, which can seat about 5,000 fans in its basketball configuration.

"This was an exhaustive process," said Big Sky Conference Commissioner Doug Fullerton. "Reno, as a city, and the folks that we worked with did a spectacular job in representing their community. We're extremely excited about going to Reno."

All 12 men's and 12 women's teams from the conference will participate in the championship. The dates and tournament format will be announced at a later date.

"It's a great honor for Reno to be chosen as the host city for the Big Sky Conference [tournaments] for the next three years," said Reno-Tahoe USA President and CEO Christopher Baum. "We're looking forward to providing a modern, neutral, high-capacity playing facility for this prestigious sporting event."

Moving to a neutral and predetermined site ends more than two decades of the Big Sky awarding its conference tournament to the regular-season champion. The league has also limited the number of participants in the championship. In 2015, the top eight men's and women's teams qualified.

Other cities considered as possible hosts for the tournament included Ogden; Billings, Mont.; and Spokane, Wash.

"Our committee looked at a number of different criteria," said Big Sky Deputy Commissioner Ron Loghry, who was in charge of the yearlong process. "Finding a neutral home for our championships was one of, if not the most important, pieces of the puzzle. All of the cities we visited did a tremendous job showcasing their cities and venues."

— The Salt Lake Tribune

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