Will the Big 12 basketball tournaments come back to Oklahoma City?

Oklahoma City could be the leading candidate to host the Big 12 women's tournament in 2013 and 2014. The men's tournament is under contract to be held at Kansas City's Spring Center through 2014.
BY JOHN ROHDE Staff Writer jrohde@opubco.com Published: November 14, 2011
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Since Big 12 basketball began in 1996-97, the men's and women's tournaments have been held the same week in the same city.

That will change after this season.

The women's tournament was scheduled to remain inside Municipal Auditorium in Kansas City, Mo., through 2013, but conference officials have decided to leave town after 2012 and Oklahoma City appears to be the leading candidate to host the event in 2013 and 2014.

The Big 12 championships and awards committee this week will evaluate site proposals from Oklahoma City, Dallas and Tulsa for a two-year agreement to host the women's tournament.

All Sports Association executive director Tim Brassfield and a half-dozen Oklahoma City dignitaries and will meet with Big 12 committee members at 1 p.m. Wednesday.

The All Sports Association has been through the selection process many times before in several sports. Brassfield said his group will submit proposals for both Chesapeake Energy Arena and the Cox Convention Center.

Meanwhile, the Big 12 men's tournament remains under contract to be held at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo., through 2014.

If the two-year experiment with the women's tournament goes well, the event will remain on its own and possibly could find a permanent home.

If the women's tournament struggles in 2013-14, the event will either find a new site or possibly consider rejoining the men's tournament starting in 2015.

Oklahoma City's success while hosting the 2007 and 2009 Big 12 basketball tournaments makes it a solid favorite for the 2013-14 women's tournaments. The two events staged inside the Cox Convention Center remain the most attended women's tournaments in Big 12 history.

Future men's and women's tournaments will be held in different cities, and Big 12 senior associate commissioner Dru Hancock said their schedules also will not conflict.

Big 12 women's tournaments will be held Friday through Monday the week before the men's tournament.

Hancock said the NCAA women's tournament also is exploring starting a week apart from the NCAA men's tournament "just to get some clean air, some space, just to see if we're strong enough to have a stand-alone event," Hancock said.

Kansas City, here we go?

Kansas City is one of the most historic college basketball cities in the country. Municipal Auditorium has hosted 83 NCAA men's tournament games, 13 regional championships and nine national title games.

But the former home of the NCAA and Big Eight will soon become the former home of the Big 12 women's basketball tournament and potentially might also lose the Big 12 men.

The 2012 tournament will be the final event inside Municipal for the Big 12 women.

“After last year's championship, there was just a sense that Kansas City wasn't necessarily the best home for our women's event and we should start looking to other cities to potentially host the women's championship,” said Big 12 senior associate commissioner Dru Hancock, who said it was a combination of using an outdated facility, poor attendance and a lack of local media coverage compared to the men's tournament.