Almost ten years ago, a small group of locals activated an effort to build a downtown arena in Kansas City, MO and this week the region is feeling, once again, the benefits of that dream. Sprint Center is hosting the Big 12 Mens Basketball Tournament for the third straight year and fourth out of the last five, and has the tournament through 2016.
Here are some observations from yesterday's action in and around the arena:
- When did Iowa State fans turn from that lovable, ketchup-and-mustard clothed traveling band to an angry horde? I am not big on generalizing about fan bases but during last year's and this year's tournament, ISU fans seem to have grown surly and profane.
- Parking was a big issue yesterday given the daytime start times and the lots already filled downtown with regular office worker traffic.
- Former Kansas guard Sherron Collins was in section 110 with a small posse and new Kansas City Chief took in his first major event in his new town. There was also a rumor that Michael Jordan was courtside scouting on behalf of the Washington Wizards. The rumor was never confirmed.
- The P&L District makes this tournament something special--the opportunity to walk across Grand and into the area filled with bars and restaurants is a differentiator for Kansas City. However, there needs to be pop-up food options, given filled restaurants, and more seating on the closed-off section of Grand.
- The between game "entertainment," hosted by 810 Radio, featured a bad game of "horse" by contestants pulled from the crowd along with a sausage eating contest. C'mon...this event deserves better.
- For those nostalgic for the good ol' days, the four remaining teams in the tournament are all ex-Big Eight members--Kansas, Iowa State, Kansas State and Oklahoma State.
- Thursday game awards: Loudest fans - Kansas State; Best player - Ben McLemore; Streakiest player - Pierre Jackson; Worst call - Phantom foul on Phil Forte of OSU; Worst uniforms - Baylor; Best cheer squad - Texas.