The Biggest Loser: Kansas City Sports Scene Transformation

By Jeremy Sickel

   

Location, Location, Location. This is one of the prime factors in running a successful business. Kansas City has capitalized on this mantra over the years while being planted squarely in the middle of our great country. Looking specifically at the world of college sports, Kansas City was primed for success early and it seemed nothing would ever change that.

Once the epicenter of the entire NCAA, Kansas City is also the axis of three major universities in the area: University of Missouri – Columbia, Kansas, and Kansas State University. With a population largely composed of alumni and affiliates of all three institutions, KC thrives on the strength of having three Big 12 conference rivals and their respective fan bases in such close proximity without exclusively identifying itself with any one school. Furthermore, the Big 12 Conference has granted KC its fair share of events by rotating its football championship game in the past and utilizing the recently built Sprint Center for its conference basketball tournament. All of this is about to change for a city that has been the center of attention for so many years.

The University of Missouri has been the focal point of conference realignment talks for weeks. While doing nothing to quell the rumors, Mizzou actually appears to be drunk off of the national attention it is receiving and has taken all of the steps synonymous with an imminent departure from a place they should call home.

The University of Missouri will be just fine, as they are making the best financial decision possible for them. Kansas and Kansas State Universities will also maintain their current standing with the Big 12 Conference, having renewed its stance on keeping things intact while pondering further expansion. This leaves Kansas City as the biggest loser in this whole situation.

Mizzou is obviously not packing up and relocating, but as far as it relates to Kansas City it may as well be doing just that. The city stands to lose millions of dollars in revenue with the imminent move by Mizzou to the SEC. Will Mizzou continue to play a game at Sprint Center each year? Will they somehow talk Kansas into continuing the Border Showdown at Arrowhead Stadium? With Missouri moving, the Big 12 is that much further away from a conference championship game in football also; and with one less school in the Northern half of the conference, Arrowhead Stadium seems less likely to host that game when/if it does in fact return.

The biggest revenue stream that Kansas City is sure to lose when all is said and done is the Big 12 basketball conference tournament. During the four-day tourney, thousands of fans travel to KC from across the Midwest to cheer for their teams. Tickets sales, rental cars, merchandise, and hotel and restaurant sales all receive a huge economic injection from the event. The Sprint Center was built with the idea of possibly hosting this cash cow on a regular basis, but when Mizzou leaves that idea will fade away quickly.

The greater impact of all this is that the money that usually stays in the metropolitan area during football and basketball season will be traveling to SEC country along with Mizzou, not to mention the smaller avenues in which cash flows to the city with the Women’s Tournament in Municipal Auditorium. With Kansas City not being as centrally located to new schools like already invited TCU along West Virginia and Louisville, which might be welcomed into the Big 12, they might decide to take their tourney elsewhere.

The negative impact of Mizzou‘s exit from the Big 12 will far outweigh whatever financial gain they receive from moving to the SEC. Once the decision is formalized, major dominoes will fall, and the Big 12 conference will be faced with some major decisions regarding its own future, but whatever the conference leadership decides, Kansas City is sure to suffer greatly from the fallout. The millions of dollars lost, along with the heartbreak felt by countless fans in the region, will almost certainly wipe out any progress the city has made over the past decade.

You can follow Jeremy on Twitter @kcpopflyboy

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