Sprint Center to host Big 12 hoops though '16
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — History apparently trumped geography when it came to deciding the future hosts of the Big 12 men's basketball tournament.
Incoming commissioner Bob Bowlsby announced a two-year extension Friday that will keep the event at the Sprint Center in Kansas City through at least 2016. The deal includes the right of first refusal for the tournament's traditional dates beyond the current contract.
That means the Big 12 could head off moves by other league, such as the Southeastern and Missouri Valley conferences, to play future tournaments in Kansas City.
"The Sprint Center is a great venue, the history of the tournament and the history of the league in this area is rich, and we're very excited about extending the relationship with Kansas City," said Bowlsby, who will officially take over as commissioner later this month.
"This has been a tumultuous time over the last 24 months for our conference," he said, "but I think the announcement of this agreement, the settlement of many of the issues that caused it to be tumultuous, has caused us to have a very bright outlook."
The Big 12 tournament was scheduled to be played at the Sprint Center through 2014, but there were questions about its future with Missouri and Texas A&M leaving for the SEC next month. Some believed that the tournament would move to Dallas or Oklahoma City, two cities that have hosted it in the past, to avoid playing in a state without a current conference member.
"Just remember, the first part of the city's name is Kansas," said acting commissioner Chuck Neinas, who has presided over the league following Dan Beebe's departure last year.
Indeed, Kansas City has become a battleground for Missouri and current members of the Big 12, particularly Kansas and Kansas State. All of them claim robust alumni support in the metropolitan area, and all have expressed interest in playing non-league games at the Sprint Center.