More on the KC Star’s weak editorial that “No pro sports no big deal for the Sprint Center”

Hey, Sprint Center had the Black Keys tonight! Good thing we don’t have an NHL team to squat on that date. Nashville, Tampa, Sunrise, FL, St. Louis, Raleigh, Dallas, Denver, Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary and Winnipeg were able to squeeze the Black Keys in during the NHL season.  Hmm. Those arenas don’t seem to be “weighed down” by an NHL team.

So when one of my less than a dozen Twitter followers asked Yael Abouhalkah if my response to their editorial was “worth investing”, Abouhalkah in a tweet says:


ScreenHunter_47 Dec. 21 21.27






I’m guessing he means not encouraging me. Well, gee, Yael, I don’t need your encouragement. I think I’ve proved to have some pretty accurate blog posts. Remember when I was the first one to report that Pepsi Ice Midwest wouldn’t return as an ice rink while the Star, the KCBJ and channel 5 were eating up lies the owners were feeding them? I’ve earned a small spot as a credible voice.

I made him look silly a few years ago. Yael Abouhalkah doesn’t read blogs before he tweets about them.

Now, he looks silly again. You see Yael tweeted this:ScreenHunter_48 Dec. 21 21.30


I don’t need to compare the bottom line of the arenas because, well, it supports my point. Bridgestone Arena was my basis of the argument that an arena CAN have an NHL (or NBA) team and plenty of first run concerts, which refutes the Star’s claim that Sprint Center is aided by not having an NHL (or NBA) team.

The bottom line of Bridgestone Arena in Nashville is this:
It doesn’t make money. The City subsidizes it.

Does that support the KCStar’s premise that the Sprint Center works just fine without an anchor tenant?

No, actually it shows how incredibly lazy the Star is by saying that.

You see, the city of Nashville is fine with subsidizing the arena. You know why? The more than 400,000 fans going to games provide foot traffic on Lower Broadway. Those fans spend money in the bars, restaurants and retail stores and generate tax revenue the city wouldn’t have otherwise — tax revenue Kansas City doesn’t have. More events = more sales tax. Nashville proves you can have great concerts AND an NHL team (or NBA).

Sprint Center may give the city a check for $927,000 because the arena doesn’t have an anchor tenant. However, the city is missing out on millions and millions of dollars in sales tax revenue in and around the P&L District by not having the 40+ events an NHL or NBA team would provide.

Think I’m just talking out my ass? Nope. I got it from The Tennessean, who seems to understand the the nuances of a downtown arena much better than the Star does. The arena itself may not make money, but it is a catalyst for huge sales tax revenue.

Let me address the other part of his tweet.

The Star said,

But that effort has gone nowhere, partly because relatively few teams have moved in the last decade.”

Read more here:

A more accurate statement would have been “Few teams have moved in 40 years” Only 8 NHL and 7 NBA teams have moved since 2014. I’m no math wizard, but that seems like “few”.

C’mon, just admit it. It was a poorly written editorial piece with very little research and a flimsy claim. KC Star editorial board, you can just say “we’ll do better next time.”



And, I’m a little offended by the whole “not encouraging” thing. The Kansas City Star has been encouraging Clay Chastain since way before I joined the KC media in 1994. I know I’m more sane that Clay. Perhaps not by much, but I am. They give that nutjob lots of column inches and encouragement.

(can you tell I’m on vacation…? lotsa downtime…)

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Breaking down KC Star editorial – No pro sports no big deal for the Sprint Center

Off the top, I want to make sure the intent of this post is clear. This is not a slam of Sprint Center. Sprint Center is a fine arena and was the catalyst for a downtown revival.

This is a slam of the Kansas City Star and their incredibly lazy reporting. I find it fascinating that in the same paper, in basically the same section, you have two columns that are vastly different in their criticism of spin.

In one column, you have Barbara Shelley calling out Kevin Yoder on his spin. Yoder inserted a rider into the Omnibus spending bill that helps big banks and no one else. Shelley called him out. His comment was just spin.

Yet, in another column, you have the Kansas City Star regurgitating the same spin from Sprint Center — that the venue is more nimble without an anchor tenant and that is somehow attracting bigger, better concerts than it would with an anchor tenant.

You know what? That’s nonsense. Does the Star even realize that NBA and NHL teams go on road trips, sometimes very long ones? For instance, the LA Kings were on the road from December 9 to December 16, plenty of time for an arena to host a three day event like Monster Jam.
I’m going to set a timer right now and research concerts at Sprint Center and other venues in similar-sized markets. Be right back….

Ok, so the timer thing didn’t work out because the dog needed to go out. But, it was less than 10 minutes for me to compile this list of Sprint Center events through 2015.
College basketball
Black Keys
College basketball
Winter Jam
Sesame Street – 2 days
Monster Jam – 3 days
PBR – 2 days
Arenacross – 2 days
Disney on Ice – 5 days
Big XII – 4 days
Maroon 5
Charlie Wilson (no idea who that is)
Fleetwood Mac
Billy Joel
The Who
Nitro Circus
Foo Fighters
Taylor Swift – 2 days

Can we agree that Nashville is a similar market to KC? Using Nielsen TV markets as a guide, Nashville is #29 and Kansas City is #31. Let’s look at non-NHL events coming to Bridgestone Arena. Timer on…

Brantly Gilbert (again, no idea who that is)
Marvel Universe – 3 days
Justin Timberlake
Kelly Clarkson
Bassnector (who are these people, I’m getting old)
Monster Jam – 2 days
Eric Church
Linkin Park
Ringling Bros. – 3 days
Jack White
Arena Cross – 2 days
Winter Jam
Disney Live Jr.
Charlie Wilson (I really should find out who this is, I thought it was a Tom Hanks movie)
Jason Aldean
Maroon 5
Chris Brown
Fleetwood Mac
The Who
Nitro Circus
Charlie Daniels
Taylor Swift – 2 days
Foo Fighters

What do we see as we compare these two?
Sprint Center has 37 non NBA or NHL event days.
Bridgestone arena has 30 non NHL event days. The major difference is the Big XII tournament and Sprint Center’s five days of Disney on Ice.

The concerts pretty much match up. Billy Joel isn’t going to Nashville, but Sprint Center doesn’t have Kelly Clarkson or Charlie Daniels. (by the way, Black Keys already played Nashville).

Nashville has an NHL team. Not only do they have the 26 remaining home games for the Predators, but Bridgestone Arena may have to prepare for at least three playoff games…could be more as the Predators look good this year. Yet, the arena is still attracting Arenacross, WWE, Maroon 5, Fleetwood Mac, Foo Fighters and Justin Timberlake (who was in KC earlier this year). The Predators are averaging 16,800 this season, which means they are going to have 436,800 bodies through their turnstiles through April of 2015. You think the bars and restaurants around Bridgestone Arena appreciate the nearly half a million people that will go to NHL games? You think that number of foot traffic could offset some if not most of the losses at P&L?

Timer off. In 14 minutes and 23 seconds, I’ve completely refuted the following line in the Star’s editorial:
For instance, it would make little sense for Sprint Center officials to reduce their ability to get first-class concerts by setting aside 40 or so dates a season for a National Basketball Association team.

This claim in the editorial is accurate:
In turn, that club could demand to take some or all of the fees and concession revenue during games at the center.

This has always been true. Yet, when Mario Lemieux was flirting with KC and AEG was waving a favorable lease under his nose, the KC Star was all-in on how great a deal it would be for KC.

Let’s break down these little nuggets:
At the time, some Kansas City sports fans hoped that the new arena would help the city woo a pro basketball or hockey team.

Hmmm…not how I remember it. AEG told Kansas City sports fans they would find an owner who would bring an NHL or NBA team to Kansas City. Former Mayor Kay Barnes said she had 100% faith in Tim Lieweke. Mayor James said “THEY told him the timing wasn’t right”, whoever THEY is.

But that effort has gone nowhere, partly because relatively few teams have moved in the last decade.

This line is comical. Absolutely comical. Relatively few teams have moved IN THE LAST 40 YEARS!!! Just to show you how incredibly lazy this comment from the Kansas City Star is, I’ll give you a quick recap:
Eight NHL franchises have moved in 40 years.
Seven NBA franchises have moved in 40 years (if you include NJ Nets to Brooklyn).
When NHL franchises moved, three of the eight were a result of old guard NHL owners allowing new owners to move out of WHA markets (Quebec, Winnipeg, Hartford) — markets the old guard NHL owners never wanted in the first place. Plus, the Canadian dollar was terrible at the time and there were no Canadian owners that wanted to keep the franchises in aging arenas. Hartford wouldn’t build Peter Karamanos a new arena. Since Sprint Center opened in 2007, Atlanta moved to Winnipeg because Winnipeg had billionaire David Thompson ready to purchase a team. Clay Bennett stole the Sonics from Seattle. Only once in 39 years, ONCE!, has a sitting NHL owner moved his franchise to another market. Norm Greed (er, Green) moved the North Stars to Dallas.

The high cost of a successful bid also factors heavily in the process.

Huh? I don’t know what this line means. I think it’s a hedge against Las Vegas (or Seattle) and Quebec City getting NHL expansion teams. Markets that, you know, already have owners.

Can we get someone good, like Kevin Collison, to report on Sprint Center? Oh wait…

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KC Star continues to shill for AEG/Sprint Center

They did it again.
The Kansas City Star continues their irresponsible reporting about Sprint Center. It’s like these editorials were written by first year journalism students.

In their editorial section, the Star says the investment in Sprint Center continues to be a good deal because AEG returned $927,144 to the city. On the surface, this does seem like a good deal. But, you really have to dig deeper to evaluate whether that $927,144 is really something to tout.

The city continues to pour money into the Power & Light District. I don’t know the latest figures and I’m not a reporter, so I’m not going to dig around to find out. However, you simply cannot say Sprint Center’s profit sharing check is a great deal for the city if P&L continues to be a drag on city coffers. To my chagrin, even the Pitch has failed to add AEG profit sharing contribution, but then subtract how much money P&L loses.


Forever and ever and ever, they are tied together. Let’s break this down.
For instance, it would make little sense for Sprint Center officials to reduce their ability to get first-class concerts by setting aside 40 or so dates a season for a National Basketball Association team. In turn, that club could demand to take some or all of the fees and concession revenue during games at the center.

Yes, I agree with this. A team would demand fees. I’ve agreed with this since 2002 when I started writing about it. Back then, the KC Star was writing about Sprint Center as if an NBA or NHL coming to the arena was inevitable. I wrote that the lease agreement offered by AEG wouldn’t be any better than the agreement the team currently had so why would the team move?

What the Star fails to mention is that an NBA or NHL team would drive 580,000+ butts to downtown over the course of a season. Granted, a few concerts wouldn’t come as a result. Subtract those four or five concerts Sprint Center wouldn’t have and you still have half a million more people going through the arena. Oh, AND WALKING IN, AROUND, NEAR AND THROUGH P&L! As a result, maybe P&L wouldn’t be a drag on the city.

If there was any year P&L would be profitable, it would be this one, right? Big XII tourney, Royals long playoff run & Graham Zusi and Matt Besler playing in the World Cup. Imagine all that churning through P&L, plus an NBA or NHL team’s 14,000 per game. Oh, and by the way, you can still have concerts. It happens in Nashville and Columbus and Raleigh other medium-sized cities like ours.

Look, I agree that Sprint Center was a good investment. It started a chain reaction that has completely revitalized downtown Kansas City. We’ve had in the last year, or will have in the next year, some great concerts, like Foo Fighters, Pearl Jam, Paul McCartney, Dave Matthews and Maroon 5. I suppose there are 10s of people who are excited about Nickelback, too.

But, to report on Sprint Center’s profit sharing check without reporting on P&L’s net loss is just irresponsible.

Oh, and nevermind the fact AEG is working hard to get an NHL team in Vegas…even though they already “promised” us one…

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NHL Board of Governors meeting – Expansion talk

The NHL Board of Governors meets this week in Boca Raton. There has been a lot of talk about the NHL expanding by two teams.

And, why not? League revenues are up. New TV contracts are inked and funnel a lot of greenbacks (and loonies) the NHL’s way. Of course, not as many loonies as the Canadian dollar is down to about $.88 American.

Anyway…all this talk and is Kansas City mentioned? Nope.

Why? Same reason as last year, and two years ago and, heck, before the first pane of glass was squeegeed at Sprint Center. THERE IS NO OWNER FOR AN NHL TEAM IN KANSAS CITY.

Though, I find it interesting the Board of Governors is meeting in Boca. If the BOG, their lackeys, PR flaks and the media that is covering the BOG meetings all decided to go to a Panthers game, would it double the Panthers attendance?

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Kansas City — Center of Sports World — for a week

I don’t like it when some outsider says, “Kansas City can’t support an NHL team”. You see, I don’t think that’s true.

Here is a 10-day snapshot of sports in Kansas City. Remember, we have about 1.8 – 2.1 million people — about half the size of St. Louis and less than about 1/3 the size of Dallas/Fort Worth. Each one of our major sports venues was used and, nearly, full.

Friday, September 26 — MLS Soccer — sellout crowd of 19,500. Oh, and by the way, the team is the defending champions.
Saturday, September 27 – NHL preseason hockey game, nearly full capacity of 13,000 (upper end seats were curtained)
Monday, September 29 — NFL Monday Night football – sellout crowd 78,000+. Set an, admittedly arbitrary, record for loudest crowd noise.
Tuesday, September 30 – MLB AL Wildcard game — sellout crowd of 45,000+.
Saturday/Sunday — October 4 & 5 — NASCAR Weekend — Sunday will be a 80,000+ sellout
Sunday, October 5 — AL Division Series Game 3

I mention all this without mentioning that during this period of time, all three NCAA FBS football teams played home games within a 21/2 hour drive. Even Nebraska, just 210 miles from Kansas City, had a home game during this time.

You see this is what bugs me about criticism of Kansas City. We’ll support an NHL team if one ever comes here.

But, if one never comes here, Kansas City is an outstanding sports market. What other markets have NFL, MLB, MLS, NASCAR (our second race) and NCAA Division 1 sports, in the same market, IN THE SAME WEEK. Less than 10. And, those places are much, much larger than Kansas City.

I think if an NHL team came to Kansas City, it would have to be a winner. But, how does that make Kansas City different than any other medium-sized NHL market? The Blues certainly didn’t have good attendance during the Mike Kitchen era.

Regardless of whether the NHL (or NBA) comes here, Kansas City is a great sports market.

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Kansas City hosts NHL preseason game – one day after Quebec and Brooklyn

Fact: An NHL Preseason game in Quebec City drew a capacity crowd of 15,074 at the aged Pepsi Colisee.
Fact: The NY Islanders drew 11,823 in their soon-to-be-home the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

What does this attendance tell us about either market as a viable NHL market?

Are the Islanders not going to move to Brooklyn because 4,000 less than capacity showed up at a preseason game? Of course not. If they were to leave the Island or the NYC metro area, they would be forfeiting the SECOND HIGHEST PAYING LOCAL CABLE TV DEAL IN THE NHL.
Does the sellout crowd make Quebec City viable? No. What makes Quebec a viable NHL market is going two-for-two on prerequisites. A soon-to-be-complete NHL-ready arena and NHL owner at the ready – Quebecor.

No matter the attendance in Kansas City tonight, Kansas City does NOT have owner for an NHL franchise.

Avoid the silliness of NHL in Kansas City discussions. Just enjoy the game.

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Dallas Stars are in KC this weekend — model for how to build hockey community

I lived in Dallas for a Summer in 1986. There was, basically, no place for me to strap on the skates. Oh, there was a sheet of ice in the Galleria and, I think, one other rink. But, for a hockey player, there wasn’t much.

Now, there are several Dr. Pepper Star Center’s throughout the Dallas/Ft. Worth area. Now, someone in Dallas will know this better than I, but I believe the Stars either built these rinks or took them over and began operating them.

Why is this significant? Well, anyone can throw around generalities like “Kansas City isn’t a hockey town” or “Kansas City can’t support an NHL team”. Well, perhaps.

NHL franchises have been the catalyst for hockey to grow in places like LA and Dallas.

Whether Kansas City could, or could not, be a “hockey town” would be 100% on the shoulders of an NHL team, if one were to come here. If a team came to Kansas City and just went through the motions — ticket gimmicks, radio promotions, social media presence, blah, blah, blah — well, then Kansas City would be the Phoenix Coyotes Part Deux.

But, if a Kansas City NHL franchise followed the model of the Dallas Stars, then they would have no problem being successful and making Kansas City a hockey town. It wouldn’t be about first year attendance. It wouldn’t be about how many wins the franchise had in it’s first few years.

It’s about growing the game from a grass roots level. (a fact lost on those who have promoted NHL hockey in KC in the past). You can’t start the 110 meter hurdles at the last hurdle — jump right to the NHL. The game needs to be built from the ground level and that means SHEETS OF ICE!.

The team in KC would need to build a rink — or two. The team would need to have a rink management division under the team’s umbrella. The team would need to be the force to unify the Kansas City area rinks (a task that is far, far overdue). Perhaps the team would even sponsor the local high school or youth league.

The team would need to understand what local rinks have never understood — the way to grow hockey (and figure skating) is to “grow the category” not enter into petty conflicts with each other. It’s a strategy that Hallmark Cards has used for YEARS. GROW THE CATEGORY!. Hallmark’s strategy is to get more people to buy greeting cards. If consumers buy more greeting cards and Hallmark provides a great product, then they’ll garner a larger share of wallet.

So, as we reach the eve of the NHL game in Kansas City remember a couple of things.

1.) It’s great that the Stars are in KC. They are the model to follow. If there were an NHL team in Kansas City, it’s success would be based SOLELY on how well the franchise is run. Not whether or not Kansas City fans like hockey or whether Kansas City fans tend to be front-runners and only support a winner.
2.) Attendance at this game really doesn’t matter much. It’ll make for a great atmosphere, but history tells us the attendance doesn’t really matter. Fans in Nashville, Columbus, Dallas, Raleigh weren’t exactly busting down the doors before the NHL expanded or moved to those markets.

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What the NHL Preseason Game in KC is and is not

Just a couple of days until the NHL Preseason game at Sprint Center. Let’s dispel some myths.

What the NHL Preseason Game is:
-A really good time for hockey fans in Kansas City.
We’re a bit of a displaced group. We’re usually discounted as a small group of transplants who worship a sport that few in Kansas City actually like. This, of course, is only sort of true. A good number of sports fans in Kansas City grew up playing the sport at Iceland South or King Louie. We’re not necessarily transplants. Our parents may have been transplants, but many of us are KC natives. Youth hockey participation continues to grow, despite the set back of having terrible business people owning the former ice facility at 135th and Quivera. Adult leagues in Kansas City are constantly full. Some of the players took up hockey as an adult.
It’s an “if you build it, they will come” sport. Dallas had virtually no hockey in the late 80s. The Stars came to town, built rinks so that the sport would grow. Now, the DFW Metroplex is producing top 5 picks in the NHL draft (Seth Jones).

-A chance to increase awareness of the really good minor league team we have in town.

Despite the fact that minor league teams have done relatively well in Kansas City, we’re constantly told Kansas City isn’t and can’t be a hockey town. We’re a good minor league hockey town. The Mavericks are consistently in the Top 20 for North American minor league hockey attendance. The Blades were well-attended back in the day, too. If you aren’t going to Mavericks games, you should. There’s a good chance KC is going to get bumped up to AA hockey with a pending ECHL/CHL merger. Maybe, someday, we’ll be an AHL town.
Regardless, more buzz about the Mavericks is a good thing.

Saturday night is like our Super Bowl. It’s our chance to get together and celebrate the game we love.

What the NHL Preseason Game is NOT:
-A showcase for the NHL.
The NHL doesn’t care one bit what the attendance is for this game. They’re “not watching” as some people would claim. The NHL isn’t watching attendance in London, ONT, Saskatoon, Quebec City or Las Vegas either. Is the NHL watching games in Bridgeport, CT, Colorado Springs and Stockton, CA, too? Of course not.

-A gauge of interest in an NHL team in KC

If attendance is good, it doesn’t mean KC can support an NHL team. It’s a Saturday night game featuring the Blues. Attendance should be good. That means nothing.
If attendance is bad, it doesn’t mean KC cannot support an NHL team. It’s September. It’s not the post-NFL timeframe of January – March when the NHL really thrives. It’s a preseason game. Attendance, interest, media attention would be far, far different if it were a NHL team in a March playoff race or playoff game.

The bottom line is — Go to the game. Have a good time. Go to the Blue Line and have a beer. Just avoid all the NHL talk. It takes away from the fun of the night.

Posted in NHL | Tagged | 6 Comments

Kansas City mentioned as possible NHL expansion destination…again

Gary Bettman is at it again. Now, with a CBA that lasts seven more seasons and a new Canadian TV deal that is bringing a record amount of television revenue to the NHL, Bettman is back to using one market as leverage against another.

Bettman, whose disingenuous-ness was well described in The Lost City of Bettman blog, is just throwing around names of cities as possible expansion markets.

According to The Province (British Columbia), Bettman (and the owners) are considering expanding the NHL by two teams.

“There’s a lot of interest. We’re hearing from multiple groups in Seattle and in Vegas and Kansas City and Quebec City,” Bettman said to the Tribune while scoping out Target field in Minny for yet another trip to the well of outdoor games.

“We have not decided to engage in a formal expansion process but we listen to expressions of interest. It’s not something we’ve seriously considered yet.”

Here’s the deal. Bettman, and his henchman Bill Daly, just “stopped by” Seattle to try to alter the Memorandum of Understanding for the new Seattle arena. They didn’t. Then, Seattle’s very own Steve Ballmer bought the Clippers and vowed to keep them in LA. Which is a smart move. The amount of money the Clippers will bring in the next time they negotiate a cable TV contract will dwarf anything even a large Metro area like Seattle could produce.

Bettman, ever the master schemer, is now floating names of markets out there — using them as leverage against the one market he really wants — Seattle.

Bettman threw Vegas out there, which is just silly. A Vegas team would be a disaster.
Bettman threw Quebec City out there. Of course, they have an owner and an arena. But, they’re in the Eastern time zone and the league is already unbalanced — East over West.

Then, Bettman threw our lovely City of Fountains out there. Why? Well, because we’re always the ultimate bargaining chip. Want markets to bid against each other. Throw Kansas City out there with their new(ish) arena and strong attendance for NHL practice games.

Who is going to own this Kansas City expansion team?

Thought so. No owner. No team.

Move along.

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What bothers me most about CHL rumors, Mavericks and hockey in KC

Today should be an interesting day for the Central Hockey League, Missouri Mavericks and hockey in Kansas City.

I think the part that bothers me most is IF the Central Hockey League folds and leaves the Mavericks in a lurch for a season, the completely uninformed local media will have a heyday. I can just hear the sports talkers now. “Well, Kansas City can’t keep another hockey team.” “Doesn’t this just show that Kansas City can’t support hockey or an NHL team.”

Let’s get something straight. Hockey teams in Kansas City have not folded. The Kansas City Blades did not fold! The entire league folded. Six IHL teams were swallowed up by the AHL. One of those teams was the Grand Rapids Griffins. Richard DeVos owns the Griffins. DeVos lives in Grand Rapids. He also owned the Blades (and Orlando Solar Bears). The AHL doesn’t allow one owner to own multiple franchises, therefore DeVos had to decide. Keep the Kansas City Blades or Orlando or keep the Grand Rapids Griffins. Easy choice there. DeVos later transferred the Griffins ownership to his son, Dan.

Rumors are the entire Central Hockey League may fold. If true, it’s certainly not the Mavericks fault. The Mavs have been a model franchise in the CHL. The Mavs ranked 19th in attendance for all minor league hockey teams. The Mavs average attendance was the highest in the CHL and higher than the average league attendance in the AHL (and well above the league-wide average attendance of the ECHL). Only four ECHL cities had a higher average attendance than the Mavs (ironically enough, three of those cities are former IHL cities).

Let’s make sure we get something straight — Kansas City has fallen victim to having hockey teams in either bad leagues (the CHL and UHL) or teams in a league that went bad (the IHL). I said over and over and over and over again that the Kansas City Sports Commission should have pushed hard to get Kansas City in the AHL. We’ve been passed over by Abbotsford and Omaha and Quad Cities and Utica and Glens Falls and Binghamton. Some of those cities lost their AHL franchise and none of them can match the Mavericks (or, heck, the Blades) average attendance.

Kansas City is a good minor league hockey market. We just need to get a franchise in a solid, stable league.

Posted in NHL | 9 Comments