Downtown Kansas City will be buzzing this week for the Big 12 tournament, and businesses are already getting ready to handle the big crowds.
Basketball is coming to the Sprint Center with two weeks of big tournament play coming up. Some are concerned that the absence of the University of Missouri, which is now in the SEC, will suppress revenues.
Bar owners think their departure will be noticed, especially in the initial days, but hope that new teams, a rejuvenated K-State and the always formidable KU will have their fans opening their wallets. A Sunflower championship would be the jackpot.
Tens of thousands of fans are expected, and that means a lot of traffic spilling over into neighboring businesses and even some a little farther away.
If, despite the commotion around him, Nick McMillian seems a little tired, blame the newborn baby waiting at home.
"Few things are more tiring than that," McMillian said.
But he is about to test that theory, trading rattles in for drink shakers and embarking on two weeks of big business at a breakneck pace at Johnny's Tavern.
The men's Big 12 tournament starts Wednesday. Kansas City did lose to Dallas the women's tournament.
After the tournament ends, first round matches in the NCAA tournament will be held at the Sprint Center. Some are hoping that Missouri will be matched against KU or K-State in those early round games.
It is clear people at Johnny's Tavern want to see their local teams advance in the action. And the more local teams making it through to the finals, the bigger the business for Johnny's Tavern. Managers expect there could be record crowds.
"That time when we have the tournament is absolutely when we need to make our money. But it's not just that, it's the impression that we can make on 80,000 people when they're downtown in Kansas City. That's an awesome thing," McMillian said.
But it is not just sports bars bringing in the business. Anyone coming to Kansas City knows they have to hit a barbecue joint, and Rosedale Barbecue always benefit from that this time of year.
"We usually have lines out the door for several hours," Dorothy Jones said.
Some fans were already at Rosedale Barbecue on Sunday with tickets in hand and outfits planned.
"I'll be in Jayhawk gear the whole time. I have special Jayhawk red pants that I sometimes wear for the big games," Brent Kassing said.
But Kassing will be rooting most for the advertising Kansas City will get all week.
"You get to see how it's growing in all directions now," Kassing said.
NAIA tournament play will also be in Kansas City this week, so it couldn't be a bigger time for basketball fans. Altogether, 66 teams will play in 58 games in 12 days in Kansas City.
Downtown hotels say they are totally booked and expect to remain so for the next couple weeks.
Some street closures for the Big 12 tournament will start Monday.
Grand Boulevard between East 13th Street and Truman Road will close at 10 a.m. Monday, and East 14th Street between Walnut Street and Grand Boulevard will also close.
Walnut between 13th and 14th streets will close on Tuesday, and everything will be back open on Sunday.
KCTV5's DeAnn Smith and Jeanene Kiesling contributed to this report.
Copyright 2013 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) All rights reserved.
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