It would be great to bring the Big 12 basketball tournaments back to Kansas City on a permanent basis.
Tournaments for the Big 12 and its predecessors are a treasured tradition in Kansas City. The post-season tournaments and the old holiday tournaments have been a wonderful event for Kansas City and for Kansas University fans.
In the old Big 8, a Kansas City tournament made perfect geographical sense because it was centrally located for all of the teams involved. The formation of the Big 12, with the addition of four Texas teams, shifted the league's geographic center to the south but that doesn't mean Kansas City isn't a great place to be the tournament's permanent home.
The post-season tournament has been in Dallas for the last two years. After returning to Kansas City this year, it will go back to Dallas next year and to Oklahoma City the year after that. The year after that, in 2007, the new Sprint Arena is scheduled to be open in Kansas City. Plans for the new arena include a seven-block entertainment district surrounding an arena that will seat 18,000 to 20,000 people. It sounds like the perfect spot for the post-season men's and women's tournaments.
Having the tournaments in Kansas City is an economic boon for that city as well as neighboring areas, including Lawrence. It's an important event that area leaders should work hard to attract.
There is talk of Kansas City being one stop on a regular rotation of host cities for the post-season tournaments. That would be good, but what would be even better is if Kansas City could be such a great host city, providing such great accommodations and entertainment that all the Big 12 fans would want to come back to K.C. every year.
Hopefully, at the end of this weekend's tournament Big 12 fans and officials will take with them fond memories of Kansas City and excitement about plans for the Sprint Arena. Kansas City leaders have an opportunity to build on a wonderful tradition and to establish a new tradition for the Big 12. They should work hard not to squander that opportunity.