Earlier this week the Missouri Valley Conference announced that their men’s basketball tournament will remain in St. Louis through 2015. The tournament, dubbed Arch Madness, has been hosted by our friends on the East side of the state since 1991. They’ve done a fine job hosting and running the event, but as a resident of Kansas City and a Creighton alum, I was hoping for a change of venue to the Sprint Center.
Kansas City and Omaha, which has the Qwest Center, have both made inquiries about hosting the tournament. And there are plenty of reasons for the MVC to take those inquiries seriously. Both cities offer newer and more robust facilities than St. Louis and the Scottrade Center can provide.
Another feather in Kansas City’s cap is its longstanding love affair with college basketball and the fantastic support and success that tournaments held locally enjoy. The Big-12 conference has held the event in KC 11 times over the last 16 years and is locked in with the Sprint Center through 2016. Oklahoma City (twice) and Dallas (three times) have also hosted the event, but neither have been able to generate the buzz, excitement and ticket sales.
I believe that Omaha, like KC, would do a fantastic job hosting the Valley basketball tournament. We’ve all seen how the city rallies around the College World Series and I can’t imagine a better place for that event. However, one of the advantages that St. Louis has in the conversation is that they offer a venue of neutrality. Kansas City also brings that to the table, but Creighton calls Omaha home and their on-court advantage in the Qwest Center would be a difficult pill to swallow for the other schools.
Again, Kansas City is unencumbered with that potential conflict. It has a fantastic venue that was geared in part around hosting basketball events, is located in the midst of an entertainment district and is integrated with the College Basketball Experience and National College Basketball Hall of Fame.
The MVC tournament would also benefit from the college basketball fervor that exists in Kansas City at the start of March. Generally held the weekend before the Big-12 kicks off it’s tournament, the two conferences could combine to form a nearly two weeklong state of basketball nirvana in our area. In addition, the women’s tournament which is currently held in St. Charles (in place through 2014) would have several venues to choose from if they elected to move their event west as well.
For now it’s just a pipe dream, but for 2016 and beyond Kansas City seems to be an ideal destination. Here’s hoping city leaders are already hard at work behind the scenes to make it happen.