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Archive for Friday, March 12, 1999

KEEP IT IN KANSAS CITY

March 12, 1999

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Kansas City should work hard to hang onto the Big 12 post-season tournament

Will the annual Big 12 post-season basketball tournament remain in Kansas City? That's one of the big questions facing Kansas City's civic leaders as they anticipate a well-organized effort by leaders in Oklahoma City, Denver, Dallas and perhaps St. Louis to convince organizers the tourney should be moved from city to city.

The Big 12 post-season tournament and its predecessor, the Big 8 tournament, have been held in Kansas City since the mid-1970s. The tournament has proven to be a big success for all parties. The annual games are reported to pump at least $20 million into the Kansas City economy, and it generates a great deal of positive publicity for the city. Before the post-season games, Kansas City was the site for a very successful Christmas season tournament.

Kansas City is only a few hours away from the campuses of Missouri, Iowa State, Nebraska, Kansas and Kansas State and is more centrally located for all schools than Dallas.

For years, Kansas City leaders were too complacent. They thought they had the FFA annual convention locked up and they lost this great gathering of young men and women. They lost the NCAA offices as well as the Big 12 conference offices. Complacency played a major role in these losses.

Now there is a good chance the conference basketball tournament may be moved.

Kansas City offers many advantages, but something needs to be done to improve the overall environment of Kemper Arena. The basketball arena itself is fine, but really nothing super compared to facilities offered in other major cities. Newer facilities offer many attractive features.

The corridors surrounding the arena are far too small and crowded, concession facilities could be improved and the housekeeping is poor. Traffic and parking are a major concern as it is not easy to get to the games.

It is not known whether other cities will be asked to offer cash incentives to the conference to get a favorable vote for a rotation in the conference championship tournament. If so, Kansas City officials should demand an independent audit of such pledges and a follow up to see if the pledge is paid if the tourney is moved.

According to some reports, Dallas officials had pledged to pick up the costs of moving the Big 12 Conference offices to the Texas city, but some way or other this pledge or promise was forgotten. Officials who should know say a recent audit of the conference's books shows the pledge was not honored, that it was written off and that the conference had to absorb the costs Dallas had promised to pay.

Kansas City has the tournament next year, but what happens after that is anyone's guess. So far conference athletic directors have not distinguished themselves in many of their Big 12 actions. For example, the man they selected to run the conference didn't last long after some of his actions and behaviors became better known. Likewise they bought the sales pitch of Dallas officials but didn't demand the city stand by its pledge.

How will they handle the question of where to hold the Big 12 post-season basketball tournament, and what will Kansas City leaders do to make Kansas City an even finer site for players and fans alike?

Kansas Jayhawk fans are hopeful Kansas City will be the tourney site for many years to come.

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