Kansas City might soon add another college basketball tournament to its calendar.
On Wednesday, the Missouri Valley Conference will make a “historic announcement regarding the future” of its men’s basketball tournament.
Assuming “historic” means the announcement of a new home, what could be more historic than bringing the tournament to the city where the conference was founded?
The league was created as the Missouri Valley Intercollegiate Athletic Association on Jan. 12, 1907, at the Midland Hotel in Kansas City with five member schools: Kansas, Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska and Washington (St. Louis). Iowa State and Drake were soon added. Basketball was the league’s first competitive sport.
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Several schools broke away to form the Big Six in 1928, but the Valley continued as a strong basketball conference.
Kansas City was among a handful of cities, along with St. Louis, Indianapolis, Chicago and Las Vegas, invited to bid for Missouri Valley tournaments beginning in 2016. St. Louis’ Scotttrade Center has been home to the tournament since 1995.
What does Kansas City offer? Nobody does college hoops tournaments better. The Big 12 men’s tournament at the Sprint Center is an overwhelming success, and the NAIA and MIAA tournaments have found homes at Municipal Auditorium.
Every so often when the NCAA Tournament arrives, the Sprint Center fills up. The last time that happened, in 2013, the Missouri Valley served as host, and the city’s enthusiasm, not to mention the party atmosphere across the street in the Power & Light District, did not go unnoticed.
The dates work. According to The Valley’s media guide, its tournament will continue to be played on the first Thursday-Sunday in March through 2017. That wouldn’t conflict with the Big 12 men’s tournament, which begins the second week in March.
(The Big 12 has discussed returning the women’s tournament to the same city as the men’s event, which will be played at the Sprint Center through 2016 with the possibility of an extension. The Big 12 women’s tournament is scheduled to be played the first week of March through 2016.)
Also, the league’s current kingpin, Wichita State, is a convenient three-hour drive from Kansas City.
Next season, the Missouri Valley will celebrate the 25th anniversary of the tournament as a neutral-site event, which has become known as “Arch Madness” in St. Louis.