Archive for Monday, March 3, 1997


March 3, 1997


Organizers will have their hands full with the inaugural Big 12 tournaments this week.

March Madness kicks off this week with not eight, not 12, but 24 college basketball teams participating in inaugural Big 12 tournaments in Kansas City, Mo.

The women's Big 12 competition begins Tuesday at Kansas City's Municipal Auditorium and the men's tournament begins Thursday at Kemper Arena.

Fans familiar with the unique atmosphere of the old Big Eight tournament shouldn't be disappointed with the addition of four Texas schools, officials said.

"It's going to be phenomenal," said Tim Allen, associate commissioner of the Big 12 Conference in Dallas and head of the men's tournament.

However, Allen said fans may have to be patient with organizers, as they attempt to iron out any glitches inherent with the first year of such major events.

"Aesthetically, the outside of the arena will not be pleasing to the eye," he said, referring to newly completed renovations that added about 2,000 seats to Kemper.

Other improvements include larger concession areas and bathroom "parity" -- more women's restrooms have been installed, Allen said.

Officials anticipate the arena now will hold about 19,000.

The renovation has led to leaks in the the arena's roof. Officials have assured people that the problem will be fixed in time for the start of the tournament.

In addition, Allen said, "There will be some traffic and entry delays to the building. We strongly urge everyone to get there early."

In past years, hundreds or even thousands of fans from each school have partied before and during games in rooms at the American Royal, located next to Kemper.

Rooms for each Big 12 school have been reserved in the American Royal this year, Allen said.

Traditionally, fans of Iowa State University have made up one of the largest contingents. Up to 5,000 Cyclone fans have packed their area of the American Royal during past tournaments.

Officials said they don't expect any major changes in the contingents of former Big Eight school fans, although they added that Colorado's success should result in more fans from the Rocky Mountain State at the men's tournament.

But no one is really sure how many fans from each of the four Texas schools will be present.

"It's going to be a new event for (University of Texas fans) said Dave Saba, director of sports information at UT.

"I just know that we've sold out our allotment (of tickets)," he said. "I couldn't give you an estimate who would be there from the city, but it's a good sign that we're out of (tickets)."

A secretary for the Red Raider Club of Texas Tech also said she did not know how many fans from Lubbock would travel to Kansas City.

Texas Tech usually brought the largest contingent of fans to the Southwest Conference Tournament in Dallas, Saba said.

"Once our fans experience the atmosphere, I think it will do nothing but grow from there," he said.

  • Highlights of the KU men's regular-season finale against Nebraska. Page 1C.

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