Big 12 Championship creates big business for downtown KC

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- College basketball fans and Kansas City locals made their way to the Power and Light District for Wednesday’s kickoff of the Big 12 Men’s Championship. Excited fans spent money at bars and restaurants, driving up sales.

The championship boosts the economy in the Power and Light District, but FOX 4 also spoke with several businesses in the Garment District that are looking forward to the extra economic gains.

Carl Markus has greeted customers for nearly four years at The Polished Edge on Main Street in downtown Kansas City, several blocks from the Sprint Center, host of the Big 12 Championship.

“We are so excited for opportunities for us to let people know about our city and about our product; makes us so excited that we just don’t know what to do,” Markus said.

The jewelry shop runs Big 12 specials, helps guests and counts on increased business and awareness for the Garment District during the championship. Markus grew up in Kansas City and remembers shopping in the area as a child.

“I’m excited that we’re getting in on the beginning opportunity to let Kansas City know you can come back downtown and shop!” he said.

Just across the street from the jewelry store is another store that’s opening its doors to Big 12 fans. The Garment District clothing retailer set up a tent with merchandise geared toward college basketball fans.

Nova Engle manages the Garment District Clothing Store. She set up racks, dragged metal racks, and set up clothes. The boutique set shop, complete with team-colored clothing, close to the action.

“Sports fans are a lot of fun. You get to meet people from all over the country, and they’re always really excited about this,” Engle said. She hopes the mobile boutique will also drive business back to the home shop, even after Big 12 fans leave. “You can go out, shop, you can go to dinner afterwards, and it’s just an experience."

And what Big 12 celebration would be complete without basketball? MeMa’s Bakery, just up Main Street, hosted a hoop-shooting contest, set up right in the front of the store. The contest was two-fold. If you made your first shot, you received a free sugar cookie. Then, if you can keep the longest running consecutive shots made, you can get a cookie each day for a year. Wednesday morning, the record was at 27 hoops.

Most shops and businesses will run specials throughout the Big 12 Championship. The KC Convention & Visitors Association estimated last year’s tournament brought in $9 million. Kansas City is set to host the Big 12 Championship through 2016.

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