For many years running Kansas City MO. has hosted the Big 12 Tournament. This year was no exception. However, this year proved a bit more interesting in the Big 12 as the University of Missouri leaves for the SEC conference next season. Take away one of the primary schools in this region, couple it with the fact that Kansas City is in the state of Missouri, and no Missouri team will be in the Big 12 next year…..well, put on your political hat, and I think you know the answer as to the future of the Big 12 Tourney in Kansas City. Actually, the Big 12 Men’s Tourney is under contract to return next year. But that will be all she wrote for KC. Too bad. This sleepy midwestern city, come to find out is anything but.
In reality, this city is bustling with entertainment, clubs, bars and restaurants. Quite contrary to the branding most outsiders place on this city. The center piece of this entertainment is the Power and Light District, pictured to the left. (thanks to whoever I stole this pic from). This district is adjacent to the Sprint Center where the Men’s Tourney takes place. Here there are numerous bars and restaurants. Many surround an inner courtyard which is anchored by a stage, a main level on the ground with balconies surrounding the main area. Eateries such as McFaddens and Maker’s Mark restaurant turn into terrific places to hang pre and post game to get you drink on. It gets quite crowded during events, so one must be prepared. But the vibe is unmistakable. Music fills the center court. Many nights there is live music on stage. Parking can be difficult and so can navigation. For events like the Big 12 tourney, they block off many streets around the sprint center….you will pay $30 to park adjacent to all the action. But there is really no need to park that close. While the Men’s tourney was held in the Sprint Center, the women’s Bit 12 Tourney was held in Memorial Auditorium, about 6 blocks away and an easy walk. Parking at Memorial was $10 for garage and safe parking. The walk was nothing. But for those who may have an issue walking this way without a break, there are many bars and eateries in between the two venues to take your break at. Around the Sprint Center, there were the restaurants I mention, 801 Chop House to get your steak on and lighten your wallet a bit, a Gordon Beirsch brewery restaurant……too many to remember or discuss here. Whatever your taste, it is offered in this area.
Most of the lodging in this area is high end and high priced. We stayed in the Plaza area. I was previously familiar with this area from days of a career in telecom sales selling to Sprint. This is a separate entertainment district with a distinct upscale fell to it. It is due west down Main Street about 4-5 miles. Once again here is a collection of great restaurants, anchored by Plaza III…..one of my favorite upscale steak houses in the nation. A return to Plaza III did not disappoint. But there are many other good choices. There are a few chain eateries, such as PF Chang’s and Cheesecake Factory, but one thing I was most impress with in Kansas City was the lack of chain restaurants. Most are individual or limited, local chains. We tried to support these as much as possible. Further, between the plaza area and central KC, along Main Street and several adjacent streets, are different neighborhoods that each have a feel of its own and a bevy of restaurants and bars with personalities to match the area. Many of these were in transition type neighborhoods, mixing together various economies and people. Also in these neighborhood were the corner bars…the kind we have written about here on redd. Places like Danny’s, or Partners…..you get the picture. A great place for nothing other than a good ole Old Style or the like.
Various eateries that we tried were in these type of neighborhoods. WE will provide reviews of the restaurants in the coming posts. But for now, lets just say that our down time at the tourney was spent at the Tannin Wine Bar and Kitchen. This was about 4 blocks from the Sprint Center…..far enough to get away from the crowds, close enough to get there quickly without getting into a car. The restaurants we will review in future posts are the above, Extra Virgin, PizzaBella, and Oklahoma Joe’s…….(its KC, had to try the BBQ, since we reguraly review BBQ joints on this site).
WE are quite bummed that the Big 12 Tourney will not be in KC in the future…..all due to the decision of a state school to chase TV revenues and become an also ran in the SEC conference. Good riddens. But to KC, this is big business that is lost in their future. They have an incredible amount of public facilities that have been erected with their 10.35% sales tax (yes you heard that right….I did not calculate, but this was told to me by a manager at Plaza III). The revenue contributes to keep a clean city, and largely a safe city. I will miss going to KC for the Big 12 Tourney. Unfortunately, I have no real other reason to go there given its locale to Texas. So I say farewell, and if you ever travel in the central US, stop at KC. There is so much unique entertainment (yes, you gambling addicts….they have casinos)
The experience at KC is top notch, the food top notch, the watering holes top notch. Look for reviews in coming posts on Oklahoma Joe’s BBQ, Extra Virgin, Tannin Wine Bar and Kitchen, Plaza III, and Pizza Bella. These post will drive our content for the near future…..its generally that good.
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