While Jayhawk Nation is jumping up and down over the Final Four, I can assure you not everybody else in Kansas City feels that way…
And I’m not just talking about MU and K-State fans.
Before I lay down a few facts regarding the Kansas City economy, understand I’m proud of our University of Kansas basketball program. The Kansas basketball team is our only elite sports team in the area. And it has been for a generation or three since either the Chiefs or Royals have meant anything.
Most Kansas Citians who follow our sports teams today have never even seen Len Dawson play.
And as many as half never witnessed George Brett get even one hit. That leaves our 2008 National Champion Kansas Jayhawks as our only current day pride and joy. Yes, it’s exciting that the Jayhawks have a chance to win their second national title in just four years and I’m in no way unhappy about that.
However, almost all our restaurants and entertainment venues will take a major hit Saturday because the Ohio State-Kansas game tips off at approximately 7:45pm.
Yes, it will have nearly the viewing audience in this area of a Superbowl.
Not many people will be going to restaurants, movie theaters, comedy clubs or just about anywhere else for nearly a 4-hour period. True, a handful of sports bars and t-shirt shops will have a field day. Unfortunately, restaurants on the Plaza, out south, midtown, and all over the city will be pretty much empty.
For most of these establishments, Saturday night is 50-70% of their gross income for the week.
To make matters even worse, over the last two weekends, KU has had other weekend night games. Using Stanford & Sons as an example, we lost nearly half of our normal attendance those nights. We expect tonight to be even worse.
I know many restaurants have TVs in their bars and lounges, but the majority of fans will want to watch this at home with their family and friends or with neighbors at a local sports tavern.
Since it’s impossible to know how far a team like Kansas will go, one cannot plan ahead for the dead Fridays and especially a dead Saturday. I was on the Plaza for KU’s Sunday game against Purdue and it was a ghost town. To make matters worse St Patrick’s Day fell on a Saturday. If you weren’t a bar or tavern in Westport, Waldo, Brookside or Power & Light, you probably also got jacked.
I was in Las Vegas watching the KU game this past Sunday against North Carolina. Before the game, they announced KU would play the early game for the Final Four this Saturday. That meant the entire debacle of "no business" would be avoided because this game would have been over just after 7pm. Once CBS realized that Kentucky and Louisville was a same-state rivalry, they immediately switched the Kansas-Ohio State game to the late game. Reason: larger viewership; more money. Sadly, less money for our local businesses.
Oh well, you can’t win them all…