KANSAS CITY, Mo. — If the calendar reads March, it means big things in Kansas City.
Beginning Wednesday, March Madness and the Big 12 Championships will bring college basketball excitement back to Kansas City, and record-setting crowds could be in the cards.
The KC Live stage is preparing for one heck of a college basketball party. As many as five thousand fans from every Big 12 school — all ten of them — are expected to pack into this downtown entertainment district and it could bring a record-setting crowd, even by Big 12 standards, which are lofty.
Construction of fan attractions began Monday morning on Grand Boulevard outside T-Mobile Center. A team of workers with Power and Light District is preparing the stage area at the KC Live block for fanfest. Nine of the Big 12’s teams have winning records, and five of then are ranked in the current Associated Press Top 25. This could mean fans of teams that don’t usually perform well in the Big 12 men’s tournament may choose to travel for these games.
“Everyone’s got a chance. I think you’re going to have people coming who would normally venture to the Midwest for something like this, I think they’re going to make the trip this year.” Jason Bradley, Power and Light District’s entertainment director, said.
Across the way at Johnny’s Tavern, company co-owner Kyle Witherspoon described this week as the biggest his Power and Light District location will see all year. Witherspoon said his coolers are filled with cold beer, and the freezers are stocked with food.
“I think people are excited. The fanbases are excited. This could be one of the biggest Big 12s we’ve ever had here,” Witherspoon said.
Bradley and his staff take some comfort knowing fans of each team seem to come and go from this area in waves. But if a team with a big following — like KU or K-State — or even both of them — were to make it to Saturday evening’s championship game, downtown Kansas City could burst at the seams with college basketball energy.
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Weather will also be a concern for tournament-goers. This week’s forecast includes nighttime lows in the 30s, and a solid chance of rain on Thursday and Saturday. Big 12 Conference fans will remember last year’s snowfall during the tournament.