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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Fans flock to Kansas City for Tigers’ return

Athletics aids in student transportation as fans are eager for more KC games.

Sophomores Nathan Blount and Amberle Garrett (left and second from left) cheer on the Tigers in their 92-80 win over Hawaii on Nov. 16 in Kansas City. Blount and Garrett, a couple for over a year, won The Maneater's #KC4FREE ticket giveaway contest.

Kevin Mathein/Staff Photographer

A member of The Antlers shouts at players during Missouri's victory over Hawaii in Kansas City on Nov. 16. It was Missouri's first game in Kansas City since the 2012 Big 12 Tournament.

Kevin Mathein/Staff Photographer

Cheerleaders and Truman the Tiger stand and sing the Missouri Alma Matter after the Tigers defeated Hawaii 92-80 Nov. 16. It was Missouri's first game in Kansas City since the 2012 Big 12 Tournament.

Kevin Mathein/Staff Photographer

Nov. 16, 2013

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — “This game is over,” announced ESPN’s Brent Musburger on March 10th, 2012. “Missouri will win the Big 12 championship.”

Those famous words, forever etched in program history with the Tigers’ win over Baylor, marked the last time the team had played at the Sprint Center prior to Saturday’s game against Hawaii.

The event caused a few hundred students to make the two-hour trip from Columbia to Kansas City for the team’s return to the arena.

“I thought it was a good opportunity to go out and support our team,” junior Steve Goldberg said. “Kansas City’s not a bad drive, a couple hours away from Columbia and Kansas City is a big market we target in terms of our fan base. It’s good for the team and good for the school.”

Fans and alumni and have wanted a game in Kansas City for a while now, especially since the Tigers move to the Southeastern Conference. Kansas City has a stronger alumni base than St. Louis where fans there see the Bragging Rights Game with Illinois every year.

“I would personally as a student even though it’s a little inconvenient, I mean Mizzou Arena is a few minutes from my house where Kansas City is two hours away,” Goldberg said. “But Kansas City is a Big 12 town with Kansas and Kansas State, and fans here could forget about Missouri if we stop having a presence here.”

The athletic department seemed eager to help bring the students out to the game offering to pay for the buses to transport Zou Crew, the student cheering section, lowering the cost to only $10 a student. Many students that bought tickets didn’t even ride the bus, which gave the department a good indication about the student turnout.

“I think athletics always wants the students,” Zou Crew advisor Kristen Temple said. “The students bring a different energy. Not that the alumni they but the students, they know all the cheers, they all know the players because they interact with them.”

The Tigers are slated to return to Kansas City next year for the College Basketball Experience Hall of Fame Classic but are still searching for another game to play at the Sprint Center.

Temple said she loves the fact that the Tigers are keeping the Kansas City games going.

“I think it’s a great idea because it’s not always possible for folks that live in Kansas City to get to Columbia,” she said. “So this is a way for the games to come to them.”

Temple already knows what game she would love to see played in Kansas City. Most fans would probably agree with her.

“I would love that game to be Kansas-Missouri,” she said. “We’ll see if that can happen.”

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