“Dickies was not big enough by the requirements. You can read into it how you want,” TCU basketball coach Jamie Dixon said at the Big 12’s media day on Wednesday.
“There was no way they wanted to move it from here.”
“Here” is Kansas City’s Sprint Center, which has hosted the tournament since 2010. The Big 12 conference announced Wednesday it had selected Kansas City to remain the host site for the men’s and women’s championships through 2024.
Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby said no other cities made a bid for the tournament, although cities such as Fort Worth didn’t have an option because of the seating requirements.
The Sprint Center has a seating capacity of 18,972.
Another hurdle for Fort Worth would have been finding a venue for the women’s tournament. The conference wanted a host city that could handle both events.
Kansas City’s Municipal Auditorium will host the women’s tournament after undergoing a $5 million renovation project. Fort Worth’s best option may have been the Fort Worth Convention Center downtown, a 50-year-old venue that was last renovated in 2003.
“Kansas City has become synonymous with Big 12 basketball,” Bowlsby said. “The excitement around the men’s championship is contagious with the crowds inside Sprint Center and the surrounding Power & Light District. We look forward to bringing our men’s and women’s championships back together and continuing to build upon this atmosphere.”
Dixon would’ve liked Fort Worth to have an opportunity to bid on the tournament, of course, but understands why Kansas City is so attractive to host the tournament. It’s embraced by a basketball-crazed city with three competitive programs within a three-hour drive in Kansas, Kansas State and Iowa State.
“Historically, this place has filled it up and it has helped that all three programs [KU, K-State, ISU] have been good,” Dixon said. “It’s not like they haven’t done their part. Teams have been good. They’ve filled the place. The facility is tremendous. It’s a big thing for the city. I get it. They don’t want to take a step backward, or take a chance of doing it.
“Kansas has a 100-plus year head start on us. They hired Naismith and they’ve been all-in on basketball ever since.”
Dickies Arena will get plenty of college hoops, too.
TCU recently announced it’d play in the venue’s inaugural basketball game against USC on Dec. 6, 2019, and it’ll host the American Athletic Conference men’s basketball championship from 2020-2022.
The biggest basketball catch to date is being named as a first- and second-round host site for the 2022 NCAA Tournament.