Jun 13, 2020 – 6:00am
The Kansas Jayhawks celebrate with the Big 12 Tournament trophy following their 81-71 win over West Virginia, Saturday, March 12, 2016 at Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo.
The Big 12 Conference men’s and women’s postseason basketball tournaments will be played in Kansas City, Mo., for at least the next five seasons, the conference announced late Friday.
The announcement to keep the events in Kansas City through 2025 extended the existing contract by one year for both tournaments.
Although both were scheduled to take place in Kansas City in 2020, neither was able to because of the COVID-19 pandemic that shut down sports. For the Big 12 men’s programs, 2020 marked the first time since 2010 that the tournament did not take place in its entirety in Kansas City.
For the women’s programs, the pandemic spoiled the return of the postseason event, which was scheduled to be played at Municipal Auditorium, which has hosted the women’s event each year it has been played in Kansas City.
“We were all looking forward to having our basketball championships back together in Kansas City in 2020,” Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby said in a news release. “While the pandemic didn’t allow that to happen, this extension provides an additional year for our institutions and fans to take part in the Big 12 basketball atmosphere that has become synonymous with Kansas City.”
Kansas City was the initial host of both championships during the first six years of the conference from 1997-2002, and again in 2005, 2008 and 2010-12.
“With the plans we had in place to celebrate the men’s and women’s basketball championships being back to together in Kansas City, the 2020 Big 12 Basketball Championships were poised to be especially exciting,” said Kathy Nelson, president & CEO of the Kansas City Sports Commission. “The unfortunate cancellation of those events due to COVID-19 definitely left our community wanting more. We are excited and grateful that the Big 12 Conference has decided to extend our agreement.”
The Phillips 66 Big 12 Men’s Basketball Championship played seven of its events in Kemper Arena before moving to Sprint Center in 2008. The men’s championship has been contested in Sprint Center annually since 2010, with crowds averaging near 18,000 each year.
Meanwhile, Municipal Auditorium has undergone $5 million in renovations in recent years to include new video boards, LED scorer’s table, sound system, lighting, electrical upgrades and lower-level seating.