If Mizzou leaves the Big 12, will there be a financial/economic impact on Kansas City?

Today the Kansas City Sport Commission and Convention and Visitor’s Bureau published an open letter to Chancellor Deaton of the University of Missouri to not move away from the Big 12.  The letter basically notes a number of impacts that Mizzou moving away would have on the Kansas City area, including potential financial and economic ramifications.  A link to the full letter can be found: here.

Some snippets from the letter (published on NBC Sports College Football Talk):

“We know that many factors must be considered, including the academic, financial, and alumni relations implications of your decision. And, of course, the history and future of your University’s athletic program.

“That program, as you know, has Midwestern roots more than a century old… We cannot imagine the University of Missouri’s athletics tilting away from this region and the athletic history to which they have contributed so mightily.”

Again, the often visited debate of whether sport has an economic impact on a region.  In this case, it is a curious question.  What economic impact does Mizzou athletics have on Kansas City, a metropolitan area about 2 hours drive from the main campus in Columbia, MO.  In reality, Missouri plays only a few games a year in Kansas City, the big one being the annual rivalry game against Kansas at Arrowhead University.  There is also the Big 12 basketball championships which is about 2-3 days long.  In other words, the Kansas City Sport Commission and CVB believe that Mizzou being in town for least than one week of the year has such a large impact on the city that they shouldn’t leave.  I can buy the arguments about tradition and history to some extent, but I can’t say that Mizzou really has that big of an economic impact on Kansas City to be honest.  Really, the KC Sports Commission should be trying to find a tenant to play sports in the Sprint Center in downtown, which sits pretty much unused except for Arena Football, concerts, and some of the conference championships games for the Big 12.

Another thought is, even if Mizzou leaves the Big 12 for another conference, it doesn’t mean they have to stop the rivalry game between Missouri and Kansas.  In fact, Mizzou has played long time rivalry series with Illinois for many years (though they didn’t play in football this year for the first time in a decade), so it isn’t like leaving the conference means that the rivalry just has to die.

I understand Kansas City’s worries, but I don’t buy the economic/financial argument.

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