Where: 1401 Grand, Kansas City, Missouri
There’s Danny and Norm and Michael and Phog. Shaq and Lew and Hakeem and Wilt. And Dr. Naismith, of course. All the titans of college basketball are here, and our local heroes are well-represented, too.
It’s called the College Basketball Experience, a vague name that belies the actual, well, experience of what transpires during your visit there.
“This is not a museum,” says Kevin Henderson, CBE CEO. “This is a living facility that represents the full 100 years of college basketball.”
The entire facility is designed to replicate what it feels like to be part of a high-energy basketball game from both a fan’s and a player’s perspective.
Your game day experience starts in the elevator where the pre-game pep talk gets you amped for the game. As you step out of the elevator, you enter the locker room tunnel, complete with a roaring crowd and images of cheerleaders rooting just for you. The experience is loud and blood-pumping, and you find yourself eager to step onto the court that you know must be at the end of all this magic.
Located adjacent to the Sprint Center at 14th and Grand, the CBE is a project of the National Association of Basketball Coaches and its foundation, also based in Kansas City. The National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame is also housed here.
“The history of the sport in this region – all the Final Fours at Municipal, Dr. Naismith and Phog Allen – is why this facility is here,” says Henderson.
Pay your admission and you can play basketball all day long on the just-shy-of regulation main court. Or, alternatively, there are countless smaller courts on two levels that test your mettle in actual game situations – all with loud, distracting audio replicating an opponent’s crowd, their band and their hecklers.
One such test is called “Last Second Shot.” Check the live clock; there are five seconds left, the score is tied and you have the ball. There are six large, inlaid disks on the floor and only one will illuminate. Your job is to dribble there and take the shot – successfully perhaps – before the buzzer goes off. Maybe you’ve won the big game, forever securing your spot in sports trivia sports annals, or maybe you’ve missed it, in which case your ego will compel you to repeat this simulation again.
Don’t miss the “Epochs of the Game” display which chronicles the game’s rise in our sports consciousness and how its development paralleled that of our country’s, particularly during the early years of integration. The coaches’ “family tree” exhibit is also fascinating and a must for those who like to debate coaching lineage facts.
The College Basketball Experience is open Wed. – Sat., 10-6 and Sun. 11-6. Admission is $12 for adults and $9 for those under 17 or over 65. See http://www.collegebasketballexperience.com for more information.
BY THE NUMBERS:
18 Karat gold medallions are awarded to Hall of Fame inductees
8 Average number of Hall of Fame inductees per year
60+ Number of coaches in John Wooden’s “family tree” – the most of anyone
5000+ Number of collegiate basketball coaches in the United States
23 Shoe size of Shaquille O’Neal, which is approximately 18 inches long