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Archive for Friday, March 14, 2008

New KC attractions lure fans

Power & Light District creates festive atmosphere

Juan Ortiz, a Lenexa resident and 2007 Kansas University graduate, plays Whack-a-Mole on Thursday in KCLive!, the area that is the centerpiece of the Power & Light District in downtown Kansas City, Mo. Basketball fans are converging on the newly revitalized district just west of the Sprint Center for this weekend's Big 12 basketball tournament.

Juan Ortiz, a Lenexa resident and 2007 Kansas University graduate, plays Whack-a-Mole on Thursday in KCLive!, the area that is the centerpiece of the Power & Light District in downtown Kansas City, Mo. Basketball fans are converging on the newly revitalized district just west of the Sprint Center for this weekend's Big 12 basketball tournament.

March 14, 2008

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A video tour of the Power & Light District, Sprint Center and College Basketball Experience

On day one of the Big 12 men's basketball tournament, here's a mini-tour of the new Power & Light District, the Sprint Center and the College Basketball Experience. Enlarge video

Juan Ortiz, a Lenexa resident and 2007 Kansas University graduate, plays Whack-a-Mole on Thursday in KCLive!, the area that is the centerpiece of the Power & Light District in downtown Kansas City, Mo. Basketball fans are converging on the newly revitalized district just west of the Sprint Center for this weekend's Big 12 basketball tournament.

Juan Ortiz, a Lenexa resident and 2007 Kansas University graduate, plays Whack-a-Mole on Thursday in KCLive!, the area that is the centerpiece of the Power & Light District in downtown Kansas City, Mo. Basketball fans are converging on the newly revitalized district just west of the Sprint Center for this weekend's Big 12 basketball tournament.

A view of downtown Kansas City, Mo., looking north shows the new Power & Light District, center foreground, and the Sprint Center, to the right.

A view of downtown Kansas City, Mo., looking north shows the new Power & Light District, center foreground, and the Sprint Center, to the right.

— It's about time.

This precisely is what a vibrant downtown begins to look like. The first day of the Big 12 men's basketball tournament was being played next door at the Sprint Center, and basketball fans not inside were enjoying the mild weather Thursday and hanging out in the new Power & Light District just west of the arena.

It's a party that will continue to get more crowded as nearby schools Kansas University and Kansas State University play tonight in the quarterfinals, surely bringing a bulging fan base with them.

"So far, so good," David Tischinski said of the atmosphere, while he was wearing a KU jacket and holding a beer. "It's nice to be able to go somewhere in-between games."

Tischinski was out and about even though the Jayhawks don't play until 6 p.m. today. He was among hundreds of KU fans who were soaking in the tournament's first day and enjoying all that surrounds it.

Kansas City is making sure there's plenty to do. After the Big 12 tournament left for places like Dallas and Oklahoma City in recent years, the city realized that serious upgrades needed to be done to make it a destination for such events - particularly in a stale, sometimes rough downtown.

First up was the Sprint Center, a state-of-the-art arena on the south side of downtown that opened last fall. Sharing the same block is the College Basketball Experience, an interactive home to the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame.

Next was the Power & Light District, a nine-block entertainment destination featuring restaurants, bars and attractions.

As of now, the district is only about half full, and several eating and drinking establishments just opened about a week ago. But the first impressions by customers was positive.

"I think it's awesome," said Kyle Andrews, a KU fan from Lee's Summit, Mo. "I never really came down here before. There was never much to do."

Andrews was relaxing in the district's centerpiece, called KC Live!, just across the street from the Sprint Center. It's an open-air courtyard surrounded by restaurants and bars with an awning overhead, protecting patrons from the rain.

A giant video board in KC Live! showed Thursday's games throughout the day for those without tickets. A stage was just under the video board, which will be used for small concerts in the summer. One is scheduled tonight after the KU game featuring Sister Hazel (Drawing a blank? Search "All For You" on iTunes).

Other fan-friendly events surround the Sprint Center, including a KU pep rally at 4:45 p.m. today in the parking lot at the intersection of Grand and Truman.

The downtown's rejuvenation isn't close to being finished. The Power & Light District expects to be filled with tenants by the time the Big 12 tournament returns to Kansas City in 2010, after going back to Oklahoma City next year.

But it already is well on its way, and basketball fans making the journey to downtown this weekend surely will notice.

"Growing up in KC, downtown was somewhere you never went after 5 p.m.," Tischinski said. "But this is nice."

Comments

imagold 6 years, 1 month ago

Is that what Diet Pepsi Max looks like?? I'll pass.

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