The University of Washington and Baylor University will bring their A-game when collegiate men's basketball returns to Anchorage this fall.

Teams will face each other in the Nov. 8 Armed Forces Classic basketball tournament, which will be broadcast on ESPN. Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson was originally signed on to host the event, but the network's senior manager of events Scott Pomeroy said that changed when he and his boss saw the Alaska Airlines Center.

"We walked around, and I think pretty much simultaneously he and I thought we really ought to be considering this as a venue," Pomeroy said.

The University of Alaska Anchorage will host the Coast Guard Academy in the other game.

The games and national broadcast will give the area plenty of exposure — something Julie Saupe, the president/CEO of Visit Anchorage, is excited about.

"Any exposure that we can get, especially something that's going to be such a positive event, it does a lot for us," Saupe said.

Winter tourism is something industry leaders want to promote. A recent study prepared by the McDowell Group for the State of Alaska's Division of Economic Development found winter tourism in Alaska rose 33 percent from the previous decade, or an annual growth rate of about 3 percent.

"Winter, fall, spring in Alaska seems much more adventuresome than some of our more traditional summer tour patterns," Saupe said. 

That's the message Visit Anchorage and other tourism groups hope to get out when the area takes center court on national television this fall.

No official times have been set for the games yet, but the games will be open to the public.

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