Groups working to keep MU sports in KC - KCTV5

Groups working to keep MU sports in KC

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KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) -

They may be heading to the SEC, but the University of Missouri is also hoping to hold onto its Kansas City roots.

MU's athletic director met Wednesday with area leaders to form a plan to keep MU football and basketball games in the area and downtown business owners are already coming out in support of the plan.

It's a typical lunch hour at Johnny's Tavern in downtown Kansas City, MO. Managing partner Nick McMilliam said business has been steady, but nothing quite like the crowds they see when the nearby Sprint Center is hosting college basketball games.

"Those are some of the biggest event nights for sure. The college fan base here is awesome, especially with MU, K State and KU. They all come down very early spend a lot of money, have a good time and come back after the game so we get two rushes," said McMilliam.

That's why McMilliam was thrilled to hear of a plan in the works to keep MU sports a part of the downtown landscape.

MU Athletic Director Mike Alden was one of several power players who came together Wednesday to help make sure their switch to the SEC doesn't hurt area fans.

"Our presence in Kansas City is very important. We are Missourians, this is the state of Missouri. We've had a great presence in the KC market with the games at Arrowhead and games we've had at Sprint Center. We want to continue to maintain that presence," said Alden.

Jim Heeter, head of the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce, said MU sports provides a big boost to area businesses, but added that it's not just about dollars and cents.

"College athletics is a big part of Kansas City. It's not just the economic impact, but also a part of our culture, part of who we are and what we are all about," he said.

Heeter and others will be working hard over the next several weeks to hold onto that part of Kansas City culture.

Representatives from the mayor's office, the county, the Chiefs, and the general manager of the Sprint Center were also in on the meeting. Heeter said they all plan to meet again in about six weeks to continue their discussions.

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