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Big 12, KC Sports Commission agree on 2-year extension for men’s, women’s basketball championships

Tournaments to remain in KC through 2027
Big 12 Championship
Posted at 11:19 AM, Jun 03, 2022

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Big 12 Conference announced Friday that it has agreed to a two-year extension to keep the Phillips 66 men’s and women’s basketball championships in Kansas City through 2027.

"We are very excited to keep the championship in KC through 2027," Kansas City Sports Commission President and CEO Kathy Nelson said via email Friday to KSHB 41. "We don’t take this event for granted and work hard every year with our conference and community partners to make this a memorable event for the athletes and the fans."

Despite a winter storm in conjunction with 2022 tourneys, the Big 12 basketball tournament weekend drove thousands of guests to Kansas City.

"The Big 12 is a signature KC event," Nelson said. "We are proud to showcase Kansas City on a national stage. These few days of basketball drive millions of dollars into our local economy. We know other cities would love to host this, so we are proud of everyone’s efforts to extend this championship in KC."

After two years forced to navigate cancellations or staging large events amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2022 tournament continued with no restrictions compared to 2021. It was a welcome return to normalcy for the Big 12, organizers and fans.

“Kansas City has been a valued partner, showcasing a true dedication to making these tournaments the best postseason basketball event in the country,” Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby said in a statement. “As we prepare to welcome four new schools in the coming years, I’m confident Kansas City will continue to deliver a first-class Championship experience for our athletes, administrators, fans and partners.”

Nelson said Bowlsby's impending retirement wasn't a driving force behind the timing of the extension, but the existing relationship didn't hurt in getting the agreement done.

"After working with our venues and confirming our interest to keep them in Kansas City beyond our current contract of 2025, I placed a phone call to Commissioner Bowlsby," Nelson said. "We communicated a few times about the idea then worked through a contract extension that he presented to the board this week during their meetings. He then informed me it was voted on and approved."

As extension coincides with the expansion of the streetcar, which should continue to open up more of the city to visitors, Nelson hopes KC will continue to capitalize on its accessibility to attract similar events.

"We know we’re a force and it’s because of things like the streetcar and our relationships with people like Union Station, Power & Light District, and all great venues we have,” Nelson previously told KSHB 41 News.

The men's tournament, which started in 1997, has taken place in Kansas City 21 times, including every competition since the 2009-10 season. It was played in Dallas three times (2003-04, 2006) and Oklahoma City twice (2007, 2009).

The women's tournament has been in Kansas City 13 times, returning to Kansas City in 2020 — though the event was canceled that year, so it didn't officially return until 2021. It was previously played at Municipal Auditorium from 1997-2002, 2005, 2008, and 2010-12.

The Kansas City Sports Commission will continue to work to make the women's event every bit the signature event as the men's event.

"We should all be focused on equity in sports and providing the same opportunity for males and females," Nelson said. "We were excited to welcome the Big 12 women’s championship back to Kansas City in 2020 and will continue to work with the conference to make it a great experience for everyone moving forward."