The month of March tends to be an economically profitable for many hotels and restaurants in downtown Kansas City as the Big 12 conference brings their men's and women's basketball tournaments to town. Even with the imminent departure of the Missouri Tigers to the SEC starting next season which leaves the conference with no university within the State of Missouri, the Big 12 men's tournament will continue to call Sprint Center home for at least the next two years.
Unfortunately for local KC area fans and tourism officials the women's tournament which was scheduled to also be in Kansas City in 2013 was moved to Dallas while the 2014 tournament will be held in Oklahoma City. While the women's tournament does not generate the same economic impact as the men's it obviously will cut down on overall dollars spent in town.
In addition to the Big 12 tournaments, Kansas CIty is also home to the NAIA tournament and the MIAA conference men's and women's tournament. This in turn means that Kansas City hosts more total college basketball games in the month of March than any other city in the country.
The total economic impact which is estimated by city tourism officials is believed to be in the $18 million dollar range. During the course of comments made during the conference re-alignment discussion involving the University of Missouri, Kansas City mayor Sly James estimated the Big 12's men's and women's tournaments alone were worth $14 million of the total.
Now where and how James came up with the $14 million total is up for debate but it does provide a figure to at least compare against other conferences and cities. For example, the Big Ten conference has held their most recent conference tournaments in Indianapolis. Officials with the Indianapolis Convention and Visitors Association estimated the men's tournament to be worth $8 million while the women's was worth an additional $2 million.
And as one would expect a lower level conference tournament brings in significantly less money for the host city. In 2011, El Paso hosted the Conference USA tournament and the economic bump for the city was estimated to be $3.5 million.
Of course no one area is as financially benefitted as the Power & Light district which sits directly across from the Sprint Center. While the Sprint Center may be the official location for the men's tournament the P&L is definitely the unofficial gathering location for people both attending the games and those simply looking to join in the festivities.
Maybe nowhere can the financial impact of the tournament be seen more than in a brand new restaurant. The Dubliner restaurant which has taken over the old Raglan Road location made the strategic decision to make sure they opened their doors just in advance of the influx of basketball fans to downtown Kansas City.
The 2012 men's tournament may yet turn out to be the most profitable yet for Kansas City due to a few factors working in the conferences and Kansas City's favor. For the first time in a few years the Iowa State Cyclones come to town with a serious chance to do some damage in the tournament. It is no secret that Iowa State fans travel well even when their team is down so Kansas City should expect to see a healthy amount of Cyclones in town. Another team which should bring in a healthy amount of fans is Kansas State as their team has won four of their past five games and with a win over Baylor would give themselves another chance this year to take down rival Kansas.
Now obviously the matchup that the majority of basketball fans would most like to see would be the rubber match in the finals between Kansas and Missouri. From a pure basketball standpoint this would be great entertainment but one would have to guess that business owners all over the KC metro, not just the P&L, would be drooling over this potential scenario.