If Kansas City leaders want to keep the Big Eight post-season basketball tournament, they need to get to work right now to hold onto the highly popular event. There are, or soon will be, major efforts to move the annual event to cities such as Oklahoma City or Denver, and it is far more effective to take early, positive action on this matter than to try to play "catch up" or perhaps be placed in the position of trying to change minds after tentative decisions are made to switch sites.
The effort must come from Kansas City leaders, not from Kansas University, Kansas State or Missouri officials. It must be done on a community-wide basis and not as a partisan KU, KSU or MU sales effort.
Kansas City is an ideal location, centrally located for all schools and their alumni and fans. The tournament has had excellent fan support with most games played before sell-out crowds. Some in KC may have taken the tournament too much for granted, and others may not have realized the importance of the city doing everything within reason to make the schools, their officials and players realize how much Kansas City prizes the tournament.
Justified or not, an increasing number of cities are doing more to make an event such as the post-season tournament a major happening and one that is enjoyable for the players, school officials, alumni VIPS and others in the "official parties." This is what is done at the various NCAA regional sites, and Kansas City leaders need to initiate a similar program for the Big Eight tournament.
Big Eight Conference officials did not help themselves or win many friends with the new policy of giving the best seats to those who chipped in big dollars to qualify for various kinds of "sponsorship" status. Many in Kansas City have been long-time, loyal supporters of the Big Eight tournament, first when it was a Christmas season affair and now in its post-season format. These people did not like or appreciate having their seat locations moved into the "end zones" and other less desirable locations. These are Kansas City business leaders, not just KU, MU or KSU fans. They think the Big Eight conference has hurt itself in the eyes of many loyal boosters and that this year's seating plan was one more example where "dollars" called the shots.
Regardless of this situtation, it seems fairly clear a major drive is under way, or soon will be, to move or at least rotate the location for the post-season tournament. Kansas City leaders need to launch a positive sales effort as soon as possible if they want to keep this popular sports event in Kemper Arena. Otherwise, sports stories reporting future Big Eight Conference post-season basketball tournament results could carry the dateline of Oklahoma City, Denver or possibly even Dallas.