How Big 12 Tournament shutdown affects business in Power and Light

Coronavirus impacts Power and Light businesses
Posted at 6:08 PM, Mar 12, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-12 19:56:26-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo.  — For businesses in and around Kansas City's Power and Light District, the Big 12 and NCAA basketball tournaments make for one of the biggest times of the year for excitement and revenue.

"Just like every year, we geared up for the tournament. We were prepared to be busy," said Kyle Witherspoon, owner of Johnny's Tavern.

The tavern had a good crowd around lunchtime on Thursday, when a game was supposed to have been going on at the Sprint Center across the street. Witherspoon expects the crowd to thin out now that both the Big 12 and NCAA tournaments have been canceled amid the threat of a coronavirus spread.

Eager fans were ready to cheer on their teams at the Big 12 Tournament this weekend. Now, visitors who flew and drove into Kansas City are trying to make new plans.

"We didn't expect it, but at the same time we're here for our customers regardless," said David Sherrill, district manager at Rally House. "If the tournament is going on, if the tournament is not going on, you're still going to come in here and get the same customer experience."

Rally House feeds off the party atmosphere that Power and Light events bring, but Sherrill said visitors in town can still get what they came for.

"We have a lot of green. St. Patrick's Day is coming up," he said.

Witherspoon at Johnny's Tavern said they're just rolling with it and will expect the same Friday crowds as any other day.

"The NCAA, Big 12 tournaments are high volume times for us. We understand it is a safety-first issue above sports and basketball, we understand that," Witherspoon said. "I think tomorrow morning we're going to unlock the doors at 11 and turn the lights on and do business as normal."

He said his regular employees were working, and they don't expect to send back any extra inventory they bought.