Missouri Valley men’s basketball tournament to remain in St. Louis

07/09/2014 2:16 PM

07/09/2014 7:17 PM

For the second time, Kansas City lost out on landing the Missouri Valley Conference men’s basketball tournament.

The Valley announced Wednesday that the event known as Arch Madness would remain in St. Louis at the Scottrade Center through 2018 with an option to stay there for two more years.

The conference invited several cities to bid, including Kansas City, just as it did in 2007.

And like the previous bid process, the league announced the tournament wasn’t leaving. Next year will mark the 25th straight year of the tournament in St. Louis.

“We’re very, very disappointed,” said Kathy Nelson, president of the Kansas City Sports Commission. “I thought we put together an extremely competitive bid. I think we gave St. Louis a run for its money and opened the Valley’s eyes to what Kansas City has to offer.”

Among the draws are one of the nation’s top venues in Sprint Center and the Power & Light District across the street.

Missouri Valley Conference commissioner Doug Elgin acknowledged as much at the news conference.

“We have always considered Kansas City the mecca of college basketball,” because of its history of holding NCAA Tournament events, Elgin said.

Kansas City didn’t need the Missouri Valley to plug a hole in its tournament calendar. The Big 12 men’s tournament is scheduled at the Sprint Center through 2016 with an option for two more years. The NAIA men’s national tournament and the MIAA men’s and women’s tournaments are played at Municipal Auditorium in March.

Kansas City also will throw its hat in the ring for future NCAA Tournament regionals. It last held an NCAA men’s event in 2013, and the Missouri Valley was the host.

But the recent strength of Wichita State’s basketball program, and a shorter driving distance for fans of handful of Valley schools, including the Shockers, figured to weigh in Kansas City’s favor.

“Some individuals and institutions had positive feelings about moving to Kansas City,” Elgin said. “It would have made a lot of sense … but we have a long history here.”

Also, St. Louis delivered the strongest bid, Elgin said, and had the home city advantage.

“When we looked at the totality of the bids, St. Louis was a clear winner from a financial standpoint,” Elgin said. “It was St. Louis’ to lose.”

The process produced three finalists. Besides St. Louis and Kansas City, the Sears Center in Hoffman Estates, Ill., outside of Chicago, submitted a bid.

Requests also went out to Indianapolis, Chicago and Las Vegas, but date conflicts prevented each city from bidding.

In the end, the Valley decided to stay home. The tournament moved off campus and to neutral ground in St. Louis in 1991 and has been played at the Scottrade Center since 1995.

It ranks as one of the most successful conference tournaments when measured by attendance. In 2013, the session average of 14,206 ranked fifth among all conference tournaments.

But Frank Viverito, president of the St. Louis Sports Commission, challenged fans to become more supportive.

“The MVC really should be more highly appreciated by the community,” Viverito said. “I wish the fans and the community at large could provide more support and turn out in larger numbers. … Let’s not take it for granted. Many other communities would love to host it.”

St. Louis will be a busy basketball community in 2018. Besides the Missouri Valley tournament, it will be the site of the Southeastern Conference men’s tournament.

To reach Blair Kerkhoff, call 816-234-4730 or send email to bkerkhoff@kcstar.com. Follow him on Twitter @BlairKerkhoff.

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