KANSAS CITY, Mo. — T-Mobile Center General Manager Jay Cooper says his workers will be welcoming more fans in the future with all of the Big 12’s recent additions to their conference.
“We’re actively working with the Sports Commission and the Big 12 Conference to make Kansas City the home of the Big 12 Tournament, both men’s and women’s, for a long period of time,” Cooper said in an interview with FOX4 Tuesday.
The men and women will play at the arena from 2024 through 2027. What happens in 2028 and beyond is not officially known.
“As you can imagine, once teams have been added, we have to adjust and amend the timing and the number of games that we play to accommodate the additional teams,” Cooper continued.
“I mean for those that know me, I’m very much a believer in that it should stay in Kansas City,” Kansas City Sports Commission President & CEO Kathy Nelson said when asked what she thought the likelihood was that the tournament stays in Kansas City.
Nelson says the city is the heartbeat and the home for the Big 12.
“When the commissioner a few weeks ago said, ‘We really plan to double down in Kansas City when it comes to basketball, you jump on the phone immediately and say, ‘What do you think that means? Here’s what I think that means,” she continued.
Nelson was referencing Big 12 Commissioner Brett Yormark’s comments from July, when he said the fans in and around the city really embrace the Big 12 Basketball tournaments.
“So, when I think about Kansas City now, I certainly think about that market and that championship that I look to double down on,” Yormark said that month. “We are in conversations with local officials on extending that agreement as well.”
When it comes to hotels, Nelson says there are enough in the city for all 16 basketball teams that will be here in March of 2025.
“The heart of downtown can easily handle this, and then you think about that expansion down to the Plaza and even a little further, we’re perfectly set and arranged for this,” she continued. “There’s not a concern about the number of hotel rooms.”
This upcoming March, the women’s tournament will be the week before the men’s tournament at the arena. It’s moving from the Municipal Auditorium. The conference’s Senior Director of Media Services Joni Lehmann would not immediately comment Tuesday on the chances the tournaments remain in the city past 2027.
As Arizona, Arizona State, Utah, and Colorado join the conference in the summer of 2024, concerns about travel for the student athletes have been brought up.
“The decision to charter is made at the institutional level, and varies from sport to sport, trip to trip, etc,” Lehmann said in an email Tuesday.
The Big 12 just added Cincinnati, Central Florida, BYU, and Houston this summer. They will lose Texas and Oklahoma to the SEC in the summer of 2024.