Students, fans parade through Downtown to welcome a new season

Everyone loves a parade, they say. UMKC students and basketball fans proved it with a parade through the streets of Downtown Kansas City to usher in a new era of UMKC men’s basketball under new head coach Kareem Richardson.

Fans gathered early at Johnny’s Tavern in the Power and Light District Nov. 1 for a pre-party before the exhibition game against neighborhood friend and rival, Rockhurst University. Then, the UMKC Cheerleaders and Pep Band led a short (four-block) parade from Johnny’s to the newly refurbished, historic Municipal Auditorium for the game.

At the game, fans enjoyed the debut of several new features designed to create a true Division One college basketball experience, including a new video scoreboard, new seating and lighting, and a new UMKC Pep Band from the UMKC Conservatory of Music and Dance.

They also enjoyed the first victory of the Richardson era, as the Roos triumphed, 95-80.

Municipal Auditorium, considered by some as “America’s best arena in which to watch basketball” and site of more NCAA Final Fours than any other arena, is once again the home of UMKC men’s basketball. UMKC men’s basketball will be playing the bulk of its home games at the historic venue in 2013-14. The arena’s $5 million renovation includes new video boards, LED scorer’s table, sound system, lighting, seating in the lower level and electrical upgrades.

The team begins play this year in the Western Athletic Conference. The WAC, with a 50-year history of intercollegiate competition, is the sixth-oldest among the nation’s 11 Division I-A conferences. In men’s basketball, the WAC has sent at least two teams to the NCAA Tournament in 24 of the past 29 seasons. The WAC champions in men’s and women’s basketball receive automatic bids to the NCAA tournament.

By making the move, UMKC athletic teams will gain exposure in several new major media markets, including Chicago, Seattle and Phoenix. In addition, players will spend less time traveling, with more trips by air rather than by bus. And UMKC’s agreement with the WAC includes bringing the WAC men’s basketball tournament to Kansas City for two consecutive years.

Other conference members include California State University-Bakersfield, Chicago State University, Grand Canyon University, University of Idaho, New Mexico State University, Seattle University, University of Texas-Pan American and Utah Valley University.

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