Big 12 Conference brings positive impact to Kansas City, mayor says

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Kansas City, Missouri prepares for the Big 12 Championship at the Sprint Center. (Julie Freijat | Collegian Media Group)

Downtown Kansas City, Missouri, may have started the week off smothered in dark, rainy weather, but it is set to have an exciting ending — the Big 12 Championship tournament will be housed in the heart of the city.

This is the tenth consecutive year the tournament will be held in KCMO, and Big 12 officials have stated that the conference will continue to be held there through 2024. In a press conference held on Tuesday, Kathy Nelson, President & CEO of the Kansas City Sports Commission said the city is happy about the decision.

“We feel good when athletes and fans enjoy our city, which is why we were so excited when the conference announced, this past October, that the men’s basketball championship will remain in Kansas City — as Mayor [Sly] James stated — through 2024,” Nelson said. “In 2020, we welcome the women back to compete in municipal auditorium. The women’s championship will also remain in Kansas City through 2024.”

Fans can enjoy a multitude of activities throughout the week.

“You can cheer your teams on during the spirit rallies in the Power & Light District and on Friday, during the Big 12 Big Q barbecue competition,” Nelson said. “Big 12 basketball has truly helped transform Kansas City, financially, socially and to long-lasting and impacting legacy projects. We look forward to continuing our projects with the conference and cannot wait to see what the future holds.”

Kansas City Mayor Sly James was also present at the conference and said the tournament has had lasting impacts on the city.

“Not only do they continue to bring back this fantastic tournament to Kansas City – one that the people of this city have grown to love — it brings people here, it brings fun here, it opens up one of those great avenues of sports and entertainment in this city that makes Kansas City the city that has the most college basketball games in it every year compared to every other city of this country,” James said.

James said Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby, along with the conference, made philanthropic efforts that have greatly helped the city, one of which was building the basketball courts for the urban youth academy on 18th and Vine streets.

“One thing we want to thank you for is fidelity and partnership with our city,” James said. “We know that when you come to town, you expect the best of us and we expect the best of you, and the good news is that both sides have always and consistently delivered on the best. This is a partnership that has grown over the years, one that I think will continue to grow to bring a lot of activity, fun, good games and everything else associated with it to downtown Kansas City whenever the Big 12 plays here.”

Jason Fulvi, president and CEO of Visit KC, estimated the local impact of the Big 12 Championship to be $14.5 million.

Michael Chalfie, assistant general manager of the Sprint Center, said the Sprint Center is expecting to house a large population of fans.

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On Tuesday, representatives from the Big 12 Conference and Kansas City, Missouri discussed their growing relationship. From left to right, Michael Chalfie, assistant general manager of the Sprint Center, Jason Fulvi, president and CEO of Visit KC, Kathy Nelson, president and CEO of the Kansas City Sports Commission, Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby and Kansas City Mayor Sly James. (Julie Freijat | Collegian Media Group)

“This week, we will welcome more than 90,000 fans at Sprint Center,” Chalfie said. “When we close the books on March 2019, with an NCAA men’s basketball Midwest regional, we will have made memories with more than 250,000 guests. We fully expect this incredible trend to continue as Kansas City rolls out the red carpet for the student athletes, university officials and fans from every corner of the conference.”

Bowlsby also made remarks at the press conference, praising Kansas City for hosting the tournament.

“We’re very excited to have all of our basketball activities aggregated around this city,” Bowlsby said. “It’s been very good to us — we expect it will be here for a long, long time. As I talk to athletic directors, and basketball coaches, I didn’t have a single one that really wanted to look around very much.”

Bowlsby said he believed the week would see tremendous basketball games, and that the continuing partnership with Kansas City will strengthen the relationship between the city and the conference.

“Kathy mentioned the legacy projects — I have to tell you that we feel very good about our relationship with the city of Kansas City, but all that does is grow as we’re able to invest more in the community,” Bowlsby said.

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Hi there! I’m Julie Freijat, a staff writer at the Collegian. I’m a freshman majoring in journalism and mass communications; I believe accessible and accurate information is critical for a healthy society. I love insects, I hate poor movie dialogue and my favorite subreddit is r/truecrime.