So you're coming to Kansas City for the Big 12 tournament. If you're out of town, or even if you live in Kansas City, here are a few things to know about the four-day basketball party.
Iowa State fans are your friends. Considering they haven't won a conference tournament game since March 10, 2005, you'll be surprised at how many Iowa State fans will be there. If you need tickets, remember Iowa State fans. They'll be leaving early after their team loses and, if you're looking for a deal, you may be able to snag their tickets (there's a morning and afternoon pass) for cheap. An Iowa State fan was the reason I got into a game in high school when I was flat broke (talking like $25 broke). If you're trying to buy tickets
Enjoy the Sprint Center and Power & Light District. Kansas City has refined the Sprint Center and the surrounding Power & Light District over the last few years and it's really turning into a cool place for folks to stay during events like this. If you hit up a game, you should try to hang out in the P&L District at least one night while you're in town. I think it'll be worth it as you see fans in the KC Live area gathering for games (which will be played on the big TV screen). Booze is expensive for KC ($5 a beer) but cheap as hell for others.
Parking is going to be about $30 if you want a garage. You can park several blocks away on the street. If you get there early, opting for the street is probably your best bet (as long as you can walk it after the game). If you don't get there early, the walk after the game will be cold and long.
It's worth going to the arena even without a ticket. The arena is across the street from the P&L District, which is basically a bar district. The street is shut down and there are a ton of things going on (yes, some are even family fun). Even if you don't have a ticket, you can head down there for the day and have a good time.
Do whatever you can to get a ticket on Thursday. Kansas will play the early game, then Kansas State and then, if they win, Mizzou that night. Assuming all three of those teams don't win (which is very possible), it could be the only day they all play. As you know, KC is crimson and blue, black and gold and purple. The largest crowds will be Mizzou, K-State and KU and those will be the best fans to be at. Unfortunately, though, this isn't a secret. Everyone knows this and that's why they'll be the hardest ticket to get. The only thing better than Thursday's games (if Mizzou wins) would be, if they all won, and we saw on Friday KU-KSU as well as MU-???. Now that would be pretty awesome.
The Plaza is close if you need a break. If you need a break from the craziness of the P&L District and all the booze, there are a few nice restaurants on the Plaza you can hit. Any cab driver knows the Plaza and it's a cheap cab ride from the Sprint Center. Taking the wife/girlfriend/mistress out? Plaza's not a bad bet.
You'll need a car if you want to do anything. KC doesn't know what public transportation is so we use cars for everything. If you're coming from out of town, you can either stay near the P&L District and have a good time there, or you can get a car if you plan on leaving the P&L District.
Grab some barbecue, of course. Yeah, you're in Kansas City so you need to get some barbecue. If you ask me, go to Oklahoma Joe's off Mission, order the Z-man with fries, and thank me later. Other good spots are Gates, Arthur Bryant's and Jackstack. All three of those have locations that are a cab ride away from the P&L District. Oklahoma Joe's is a pricey cab ride.
(Update: I just came across this fan's guide to the Big 12 tourney which is really well done and provides more need-to-know information)