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What will happen to the Big 12 Tournament in Kansas City now that Missouri's gone?

BERRY TRAMEL COMMENTARY — For years, fans from Missouri and Kansas have dominated the stands at the Big 12 Tournament in Kansas City. But now that Missouri is headed to the SEC, questions abound about Kansas City's viability as a “Big 12” town.
by Berry Tramel Published: March 10, 2012

Billboards around town this weekend declared Kansas City “Big 12 Country.”

So did the crowds downtown for the Big 12 Tournament.

Just like always, Kansas blue and Iowa State red, Missouri gold and Kansas State purple, painted the Sprint Center, the Power & Light District and the hotels that fill up for hoops.

“And good grief, Baylor fans,” Kathy Nelson, president of the Kansas City Sports Commission, said Saturday. “I can't get over how much yellow and green I've seen the last couple of days.”

But while Kansas City remains a Big 12 town, Missouri does not remain a Big 12 state. Not after Saturday, when the University of Missouri bid farewell to Big 12 basketball, beating Baylor 90-75 in the title game. Now Mizzou is off to the Southeastern Conference.

That doesn't mean the Big 12 Tournament is off to a state that boasts a Big 12 school. There seems to be little momentum for the conference to follow through on its bluff of last autumn. When Mizzou flirted with the SEC, Big 12 rumblings suggested the tournament could leave Kansas City, with no Missouri school represented.

Instead, this old city that for a century has been Ground Zero of the KU-Mizzou Border War appears more entrenched than ever at hosting the tournament.

“I think that's such a misleading deal,” Kansas coach Bill Self said of the Missouri aspect of Kansas City. “There's parts of Cincinnati that's in Kentucky.

“To me, the fact that the arena (Sprint Center) is located across the river or whatever, is irrelevant. It's in the state of Missouri, but it's still Kansas City.

“Kansas City is split. Kansas City is more of a K-State, KU town than it is a Missouri town.”

The tournament is contracted with Kansas City through 2014. And Oklahoma City, at least, will try to secure the event it hosted in 2007 and 2009.

Coaches and athletic directors from the Oklahoma and Texas schools obviously support a move back south.

“I think politics are on our side, for once,” said Tim Brassfield, executive director of Oklahoma City's All Sports Association.

The tournament never really caught hold in three tries in Dallas, and while the 2007 tournament in OKC was a resounding attendance success, 2009 was not.

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by Berry Tramel
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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