Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Poor Event Planning Compromises Unique Opportunity for University

This was the kind of exposure that companies pay millions for on Super Bowl Sunday.

On Saturday night, when Las Vegas was buzzing with speculation of what would transpire in Jacksonville, folks in Kansas City gave a local underdog a chance.

UMKC had monopolized the sports attention of the entire Metro area (on a Saturday night, no less!). Municipal Auditorium was buzzing with talk of “Missouri’s best basketball team.” The University had not seen the local spotlight (sports or otherwise) like this in the 18 years since the basketball program began a relationship with the NCAA. Through the efforts of the men’s basketball team, the University was beginning to see unparalleled, positive exposure on talk radio stations and in other media outlets. Not bad for a University most local residents have trouble identifying geographically.

When this unique opportunity came Saturday insufficient event planning harmed the University as much as the crowd of 6,500 helped its cause in the highly competitive academic and athletic community.

Those that did make it inside to witness Chicago State’s improbable victory represented an impressive sight for the University. However, scores of others were turned off by the overflow of people outside Municipal’s lobby trying to secure tickets before tip-off. Countless parties were walking and driving away a half-hour before the contest had began. This was the defining visual of the evening (Chicago State’s buzzer beater registers as a close second).

Ticket scalpers seized the chance to capitalize on the chaotic ticket sale situation. Ushers were still seating people in the minutes prior to halftime. The tremendous recent performance of the men’s basketball team was not enough to combat the disorganization on display at Municipal.

UMKC could easily find itself returning to the media's equivalent of obscurity, a state that it had been mired in for so long prior to 2005. In a year where attention on the University has concerned the ousting of its Chancellor, and anonymously published documents threatening the removal of entire academic departments, one would hope that administrative leadership will focus future efforts on understanding the importance of these opportunities.

Whether or not those who were turned away Saturday give the University a second chance, accommodations must be made at Municipal and elsewhere to ensure Saturday’s scenario is not repeated. If the University continues to leave people out in the cold, then it must be ready to face the music when the community does likewise.


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