Last week’s Big 12 Conference post-season basketball tournament in Kansas City was a smashing success in most every category, particularly for the Kansas Jayhawks, who dribbled away with a 70-54 win over Kansas State and the tournament championship. KU is now 9-1 in the Big 12 tournament finals.
This year’s gathering was unusual in one respect: the absence of the University of Missouri, a longtime member of the Big 12 — and the previous Big 8, Big 7 and Big 6 conferences — which elected to opt out of the conference and saddle up with the Southeastern Conference.
Some Kansas City business people, city officials and loyal MU boosters lamented the loss of the Tigers, predicting major negative economic impacts on the city. Others talked about how the conference tournament would lose much of its excitement without the emotional rivalry between Missouri and foes like the Jayhawks.
There was record attendance this year at the four-day tournament, and nearby businesses reported record sales. Some may have missed the Tigers, but not many, and there certainly wasn’t much interest or concern for how the Tiger basketball team was performing in the SEC tournament, which was running concurrently with the Kansas City show.
There are those in Kansas City trying to build a case that the KU-MU rivalry should be renewed in Kansas City, with an annual football game in Arrowhead Stadium and a basketball game in the Sprint Center. Those pushing this idea are primarily interested in how a game or games would enhance retail sales and tax revenues for the state of Missouri and the city.
Missouri walked away from the Big 12 Conference and its long association with KU and other conference schools. For whatever reason, MU leaders thought the Southeastern Conference was a better, more rewarding, fit so they turned their backs on the Big 12.
Hopefully, KU officials will not be swayed by the sure-to-come appeals from Kansas City business and political leaders to schedule a KU-MU athletic event in Kansas City. If such a game is ever revived, it should be in Allen Fieldhouse or KU’s remodeled and expanded Memorial Stadium.
Better yet, why is there any need to schedule the Tigers any time or any place?