Two years ago, Oklahoma City took one huge step forward while hosting its first Big 12 basketball tournaments. We were rewarded with this year’s event, but have we just taken two steps back?
→Two years ago, temperatures were in the 60s and 70s throughout tournament week. This year, we struggled to get out of the 30s for three straight days. →Potential gates were damaged when three of the top four seeds lost their opening games on Thursday. →None of the locals survived the semifinals, leaving two championship games with no school closer than 285 miles from its campus. And yet, good news came Saturday when the men’s final between Baylor and Missouri pleasantly drew an estimated 12,000 fans inside the Ford Center (18,878 capacity). Today’s women’s final between Baylor and Texas A&M figures to draw between 4,000-5,000 inside the Cox Convention Center (13,066 capacity), more than that if some Oklahoma fans decide to show. The Big 12 already has chosen the Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo., for the 2010 and 2011 conference tournaments, and the league will not select any more future football or basketball sites until the summer of 2010. This year’s tournaments also had a change in format. The men’s tournament was moved up one day and ran from Wednesday through Saturday for the first time ever, a move that made it more difficult for families and their children to attend at mid-week. The women’s tournament was moved back two days and ran from Thursday through Sunday for the first time, a move that seemed to help fill the stands. Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe needs more evidence before determining how well, or how poorly, this year’s tournament did. "We’re going to have to see a comparison before we really can gauge this year," Beebe said. One more not-so-little detail: the current economy. "We do have the economic considerations that I think you have to weigh in,” Beebe said.
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