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Archive for Thursday, March 15, 2001

Cities compete for Big 12 tourney

March 15, 2001

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— The 2001 Big 12 tournaments are barely in the history books, and already cities are jostling for the 2006 tournament.

After spending the last five years in Kansas City, the Big 12 tournament returns in 2002 and 2005, going to Dallas in 2003 and 2004.

Kansas City has not been asked to submit a bid for 2006. However, they are gearing up for a bidding war that probably will include such cities as Dallas, Oklahoma City and St. Louis.

The last time that happened, when the Big 12 announced in 1999 that tournaments were up for bid, Kansas City decided to spruce up a tournament package that one city official said had already been "a sweetheart deal" for the conference.

City leaders already are meeting with community members to come up with discounted hotel rates and other perks for the 2006 tournament proposal.

If history holds any clue, the Big 12 is benefiting from the competition.

Everything from complementary rental cars and Kemper Arena suites to "towel service" were part of the deal Kansas City sent to the Big 12 in 1999.

No longer are conference officials spending $50,000 to use Kemper Arena and Municipal Auditorium as the sites for their men's and women's tournaments, as they did in the first three years of the Big 12's existence. Last year, Kansas City began charging just $12 for each of the tournament sites.

"We were being cute," Bill Langley, deputy director of the city's Department of Convention and Entertainment Centers, said of the reduced fee. "If it was the Big Eight, it would have been eight bucks."

Despite the discounts, Kansas City still expects to make $250,000 from this year's tournaments. The money comes from such revenue sources as concessions, parking and catering revenues.

"The Big 12 tournament is an important enough part of the Kansas City economy that any adjustments that were made were certainly warranted," said Mayor Kay Barnes. "We will continue to do whatever we reasonably can do to keep the tournament coming here."

The Big 12 will not award tournaments beyond 2005 until after the 2003 tournament, said Big 12 Commissioner Kevin Weiberg.

He says he is hopeful that competition among several cities "creates an environment where everyone tries to put their best foot forward."

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