COLUMBIA — Only a year ago, Missouri athletic director Mike Alden was optimistic about St. Louis and/or Kansas City’s chances of hosting the Southeastern Conference’s men’s basketball tournament one day.
By TEREZ A. PAYLOR
The Kansas City Star
“I’ve had the opportunity to say we have two cities in the state of Missouri that are interested in hosting those championships,” Alden said last June.
But now, with St. Louis apparently in line to host the event in 2017, one can’t help but wonder: Where was Kansas City in all this?
Well, according to Kansas City Sports Commission president Kathy Nelson, while the city’s leaders did receive a request for proposal to host the event, they ultimately decided against bidding for it last summer because of potential conflicts with the Big 12 tournament in future years.
“We are in the heart of Big 12 country, and that’s what we’re known for,” Nelson said. “We looked at (hosting the SEC tournament) with different leaders and it didn’t make a lot of sense to not maintain a solid working relationship with the Big 12.”
The Big 12 is set in Kansas City through 2016, and the league has a deal with Sprint Center for the right of first refusal in future years. Nelson said the Big 12 has until March 2015 to decide whether it wants to extend, which – if it does – would make hosting the SEC tournament in 2017 and 2018 “unfeasible.”
Nelson, however, was quick to add that her office remains eager to help Missouri maintain a presence in the city.
“There have been discussions between the Chiefs and Missouri regarding a football game at Arrowhead,” Nelson said.
Nelson, however, said it will be “at least” a year or two before a game is played there, and was actually more optimistic about the promptness of a Missouri basketball game being played in the city.
“We are anxiously working to get Missouri basketball here for a regular season opponent,” Nelson said, “possibly as soon as this season.”
For that to happen, however, Nelson said something would have to be finalized by August. Missouri announced its 2012-13 schedule on Aug. 29 last year.
“We should know in the next couple of months,” Nelson said.
Portions of the Tigers’ 2013-14 nonconference schedule have already been announced. The Tigers will face Northwestern and Nevada as a part of the Las Vegas Invitational and West Virginia in the SEC-Big 12 Challenge. Missouri also has its annual Braggin’ Rights game vs. Illinois, and is finalizing matchups against Long Beach State and North Carolina State,