Since the Big 12’s inaugural season in 1997, the men’s basketball conference tournament has been held at multiple venues throughout Big 12 country, including Kemper Arena in Kansas City, the American Airlines Center in Dallas, and the Ford Center in Oklahoma City. Since 2010, the event has been held annually at the Sprint Center in downtown Kansas City, MO. Since then, the tournament has been a wild success, consistently bringing hundreds of thousands of people to Kansas City and the city’s famed Power & Light District.
Despite the popular nightlife spot’s consistently good business, especially in the summer months, the Big 12 Tournament is far and away the busiest time of year for the Power & Light District. Thus, administrators do their best to create the best possible environment for all visiting fans.
“It’s really all about recreating the energy that you experience at a college basketball environment over here,” KC Live projection manager Jason Bradley said. “I want this to feel like an Allen Fieldhouse or like an Ames, Iowa situation. We want to make it feel like all those schools, when they go to their respective schools to watch the games.”
However, despite the overwhelmingly positive experiences and notions surrounding Kansas City as the host of the Big 12 Men’s Basketball Tournament, not all conference members are happy with the current arrangement.
Chiming in as the Big 12’s newest basketball powerhouse, Texas Tech fans have been voicing their concerns regarding the location of the tournament, citing unfair travel distances for the conference’s members located in Texas.
Am I the only one that hates that the Big 12 tournament is in Kansas City every year?— Viva the Contenders ⚾️ (@vivathematadors) March 4, 2018
Feel like Oklahoma City would be the most “neutral” location
Argument isn’t OU/OSU vs ISU/OU/OSU, it’s 8 teams all being within 6 hours to OKC as opposed to just 5— Viva the Contenders ⚾️ (@vivathematadors) March 4, 2018
After hearing the concerns of Texas Tech fans, along with fans of other schools with a driving distance greater than 6 hours (TCU, Baylor, Texas, West Virginia) regarding the travel distances to Kansas City, the Big 12 Conference has announced major changes for the conference tournament for the foreseeable future.
In a press conference held this morning, Bob Bowlsby announced plans to construct a basketball court at the conference’s weighted geographic center.
“After informing our member institutions in the state of Texas that they do, in fact, have basketball programs, we sat down to determine the most equitable solution for the location of the Big 12 Men’s Basketball Tournament. We determined the fairest solution for all members would be to hold the tournament at the conference’s geographic center, located in a cornfield approximately 40 miles east of Tulsa, OK. This will prevent our member institutions, excluding West Virginia, from having disproportionately long travel times to see their schools compete in the tournament.”
One noticeable change visiting fans can expect to see is a much different nightlife and entertainment, including more restricted dining and accommodations than fans are accustomed to experiencing in Kansas City.
Instead of enjoying some the country’s best barbecue, visiting will fans will be encouraged to forage the surrounding fields for edibles, including rabbits and field mice. The nearby stream doesn’t have an abundant fish population, so seafood lovers may be forced to look elsewhere. Fortunately, the tournament will become BYOB, so fans will be able to bring their own beverages, including alcohol.
Big 12 officials are also cautiously optimistic about ticket sales. “Weekend passes for the Big 12 tournament in Kansas City were always sold so quickly that it was difficult for fans to pick up last-minute tickets. By switching from the Sprint Center’s capacity of 19,000 fans to virtually infinite standing room, the conference stands to make approximately a shit ton of money,” added Bowlsby.
The conference also announced that Kansas fans would likely have to wait for other schools’ fans to find their standing spots, a decision sure to upset Jayhawk fans. Regarding the issue, Bowlsby added, “We also made the decision to seat Kansas fans near the back of the crowd. Not only do they take up a significant amount of space as the second largest basketball fanbase in the Big 12, but we believe they will still be able to see the games just fine from atop their high horse.”
In order to gauge overall satisfaction with the conference’s decision, WRNL asked a few Big 12 fans what they thought of the decision.
Kliff, a Lubbock, TX local, expressed dissatisfaction with the solution. “There were so many Iowa State fans that went down to Kansas City that they basically had home court advantage. Now you put them in their natural element? That’s just not fair to the rest of us. They draw their power directly from the kernels. How are we supposed to compete with that?”
Details surrounding the tournament’s new location are still vague, so stay tuned to WRNL as we keep you updated as more information is released.