KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Big 12 is keeping its men’s basketball tournament in Kansas City until at least 2016. The Big 12 Commissioner made the announcement Friday at the Sprint Center.
It’s great news to more than just for basketball fans and Big 12 fans.
“This means a lot to our city, our sports fans and our local businesses,” says Kathy Nelson, with the KC Sports Commission.
But what does it mean exactly? The KC Visitors and Convention Bureau says it’s between $14 million and $19 million in economic impact every year.
“If you talk to some of the folks across the street, I’d love to be in Johnny’s and own that for the week, because it’s one of the best weeks they enjoy in the Power and Light District and that permeates out, there’s a halo effect,” says Rick Hughes with the KC Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Hughes says he’s especially excited about some of the ideas on the table to enhance the Big 12 experience, including a new 5k run for fans, a citywide barbecue, and other new and creative contests and activities.
Then of course there’s the main attraction: the tournament.
“It is hard to find a ticket here for these events,” says Nelson. ” Other conferences you can’t always say that, so it’s nice for them, nice for us, and the fans love it.”
And there’s one particular team who is probably happy about the news too. University of Kansas president Bernadette Gray-Little laughed as she told the crowd gathered for the announcement that she thinks Kansas City is a great place to have the tournament.
“We’ve had a little bit of luck here in Kansas City,” she says.
The agreement is through 2016 but it also offers Kansas City the first right of refusal for tournaments after that time.