This year’s gift from the Big 12 Conference to Kansas City: renovating existing surfaces to the Oak Park basketball courts at 43rd Street and Agnes Avenue.
The new courts were announced Tuesday, the eve of the Big 12 Tournament at the Sprint Center, as the conference's 2018 Legacy Project. Work on the courts will begin in the spring.
For the past three years, the Big 12 and its corporate sponsors have worked with the city and the Kansas City Sports Commission to identify a project that has involved creating or upgrading a recreational facility.
The Oak Park courts became the site of an evening basketball league last year started by Pat Clarke, president of the Oak Park Neighborhood Homes Association. He created the league to provide an evening entertainment alternative. The courts at the park are named for Clarke.
“A lot of those kids who shoot basketball on the court … some shot pistols in the street before,” Clarke said. “As long as I have these kids we don’t just shoot basketball, we talk about life.”
Last year, the Big 12 worked with the Kansas School for the Deaf in Olathe to refurbish its gymnasium. Before then, two basketball courts were created at Parade Park, site of the Urban Youth Baseball Academy.
The academy provided the backdrop for Tuesday's announcement.