Kansas City Has Bells On This Weekend

Sprint Center and the Power and Light District garnering rave reviews for the job done hosting this year's Big 12 Tournament. Phog.net's Jim Williamson with more, inside.

It's often been said that Kansas City has a way of screwing things up.

After making my first trip to the Sprint Center and the surrounding area, one thing is for sure: they got this one right. The Sprint Center, the Power and Light District and KC Live are getting rave reviews this weekend. Everyone connected to the project should have a beer on me.

Yeah, it's a little pricey, but the area is hip, trendy and a great place to people watch in between games.  And no bowling alley I've ever been in has had leather couches. So far, restaurants have been full, but I've been able to get in quickly. Parking is a problem, but I think that's going to get better the more the area hosts events like this.

Overall, though, everyone's just going nuts about the tournaments first trip to KC.

 Dennis Dodd of cbs.sportsline.com is a Kansas City resident, and he says that he's amazed at the atmosphere created for the tournament this weekend.

“I've told people I'm proud of the city. For year, downtown was a dump and we all know what Kemper was like. I'd rather pay $10 for parking near the Sprint Center than ruin a pair of shoes walking from my parking spot at Kemper.”

Scout.com's Eric Bossi agrees.

“It's a little bit of a change for Kansas City, but I like it. I'm sure there will be people who will gripe about the money that was spent, but I'll pay a little extra to have someplace nice to come down to.”

The KC Live area was hopping during the Colorado-Oklahoma and Texas-Oklahoma games, so I can only imagine what it'll be like if KU makes Sunday's final.

This little pocket of the city has been packed with fans from across the conference, and everyone seems to be having a great time, although I haven't spoken with Frank Martin yet.

It's also been a very family-friendly area this weekend. The area has a wide target audience: for every student in orange and black or purple, there's a family of four wearing crimson and cream or crimson and blue, yelling, “Go, Big Red!” I would make a case for fans wearing burnt orange, but I'm still looking for one.

Crowds have been very well-behaved, from all accounts, even though there have been some potentially-scary combinations of fan bases.

Donna Greenwell, public safety officer working the KC Live area Saturday afternoon, said, “It's been nice. No problems at all. A couple of fights, but other than that, we haven't had any major incidents.”

Apparently we can all get along.

So with new restaurants, an open-air entertainment area suitable for concerts and rallies, a shiny new 18,500-sear arena and rabid college basketball fans who feel like the tournament belongs here, is it enough to lure the Big 12 Tournament back to Kansas City for good once the current agreement is done.

“It certainly couldn't hurt,” Bossi said. “Everyone wants something nice for all their fans, and it looks like it's going to be relatively well-supported so it'll look good on TV. I think they get that down here.”

But whether or not the tournament relocates of a static location in the near future, the development downtown is a crown jewel for a city that hasn't exactly embraced big-time change like this.

“Kansas City has the worst school district in the country. City government is borderline corrupt. Progress occurs at a glacial pace. But for me, this redefines the city,” Dodd said.

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