Fans, businesses excited for return to normal at Big 12 Basketball Tournament

Published: Mar. 9, 2022 at 5:47 PM CST
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KANSAS CITY, Mo. (KCTV) - The Big 12 Basketball Tournament could bring approximately 100,000 fans to downtown Kansas City over the next few days.

The tournament is back at full capacity for the first time since 2019. The Kansas City Sports Commission estimated the impact downtown at around $21 million between the men’s and women’s tournaments.

Kyle Witherspoon, who runs Johnny’s Tavern in the Power & Light District, said he and his staff were excited to have crowds back in town for what is typically their biggest weekend of the year.

“I think fans are ready to get back to seeing live sporting events, too,” Witherspoon said.

Bret Mitchell and his daughter, Lydia, explored downtown in the quiet hours of the morning. They planned to return Thursday for the KU game, despite the threat of snow. Mitchell was wearing shorts, enjoying a warmer day while he could.

“Tomorrow’s forecast looks rough but it’ll be nice and warm inside,” he said.

Mayor Quinton Lucas did not think fans would be fazed by snow. He compared the event to winter tailgates at Arrowhead Stadium.

“We’ll make sure the streets are cleared and the venues are clear for whatever we want,” he said.

Witherspoon said he also expects large crowds downtown regardless of weather.

“These fans, they’ve come all this way. They’re going to be here for it,” he said. “I don’t think they’re going to not come.”