I think Sean does a pretty good job of setting the stage for what is going on here in KC. Much, much better than our local journalists (except Sam Mellinger) have ever done.
However, I want to take this post in another direction. If you are reading this in Canada or Detroit or Minneapolis or some other hockey market, chances are pretty good we have a better sports market, per capita, than you do.
Because there will be both NHL and NBA preseason games in Kansas City, we will get criticized in the coming month or so for passing a hotel/motel/car rental tax based on the ruse that we would get an NHL or NBA team. One comment on Puck Daddy called us “idiots”. There will be more uninformed comments like, “Why would you build a new arena without a professional sports franchise?” Or, “how silly of them to believe they would get a team?”
The first comment is silly. Why? Because we needed the arena. The problem was the “promise” of the franchise was 100% disingenuous on AEG’s part. Former Mayer Kay Barnes had to get her arena approved, even said she was going to steamroll it through and she needed a hook. AEG was her willing dance partner and gave her the carrot she needed to dangle in front of those in the KC metro who had to vote on the hotel/motel/car rental tax. Remember, half of those “Kansas Citians” didn’t vote to pass it because they either live in the Missouri suburbs outside the KC Metro or they live in Johnson (where a lot of $$ is) or Wyandotte Counties on the Kansas side.
The second one…has some legitimacy.
I want to make sure the professional sports landscape in Kansas City is properly characterized. See my example below.
Kansas City, the 31st television market and a population of about 1.8M has:
TWO NASCAR races
Do you know which other metropolitan areas have that specific combination of football, baseball, soccer and NASCAR?
Philadelphia, Dallas and Chicago.
Los Angeles with the race in Fontana and Boston with the race in Loudon, NH and the Bay Area with an NHL team in San Jose and race in Sonoma can be added to that list. I guess NYC could be added, too because it’s not that far to Pocono Raceway.
Pretty good company I would say.
So, look at it again. Is Kansas City’s professional sports landscape so embarrassing now? (aside from the Royals being the worst franchise in professional baseball now that the Pirates are showing signs of success)
Absolutely not. Mix in road trips to Lawrence, Manhattan and Columbia for NCAA football and basketball and we’ve got great sports options. A lot of big metro areas (like Philadelphia or Boston) can’t relate because they aren’t as into college sports as we are.
As for hockey, yeah, we’re a bit lacking. If UMKC would jettison their unsuccessful and utterly pointless basketball program and start a Division I hockey program, or if we could get an AHL hockey team (the second best hockey league in the world) we’d have, arguably, the best sports landscape of any medium-sized American city. Don’t get me wrong, I like the Central Hockey League team, but it’s just not as good as AHL hockey. It would also help if someone locally had the wherewithal to build us a couple more rinks so we can get some grassroots growth for the sport. The real idiots in Kansas City are the folks who shut down a two-sheet ice facility to convert it to an indoor soccer/futsal/spoiled-teenage-athlete-with-parents-desperate-for-a-college-scholarship training facility…like we needed another one of those. THAT, my friends, IS THE THING THAT WOULD NEVER HAPPEN IN A REAL HOCKEY MARKET. On a recent night when there were more than 20 old farts playing shinny at one of the rinks, when it was 90+ degrees even after the sun when down, the “new” futsal facility sat, virtually, empty.
So point your fingers from afar at Sprint Center and it’s lack of an anchor tenant. We’ll continue live here and enjoy what we have. Because, unless you are in a top 10 US market or Toronto, Montreal or Vancouver, it’s probably better than what you have.
Who has egg on their face now? The Kansas City taxpayer/sports fan or those that flapped their gums about promises they knew they couldn’t keep?