“Patient” KC hockey fans sell out Sprint Center preseason game

Feels like I’ve written this same blog post in year’s past.

Here’s the thing about last night’s sold out preseason game at Sprint Center.
Where there’s smoke. There’s smoke. (yes, I stole that from NHLinKC blog, but it’s still perfect).

When people talk about an NHL team coming to Kansas City all I hear is “blah, blah, blah” and when they’re done with their diatribe, I just say, “Who is the owner going to be?”

The response to this question is usually , “um, err, um, well, we don’t know.”

Look, AEG has officially distanced themselves from their “promise”

“Right now there is not an urgency,” Leiweke said. “This building is doing phenomenal. When we began this process, if we would have known this building could stand on its own two feet and be one of the top five buildings (for concerts and family shows) without an anchor tenant, we would have been going around telling people, ‘If there is an anchor tenant that makes sense, we’ll get it, but we don’t need it.’”

Wait. What? If there is an anchor tenant that makes sense? The Penguins, at the time, didn’t make sense. The franchise was in a shambles. The team was terrible. They had missed the playoffs three consecutive years (four if you count the year after winning the Crosby lottery) and had had six different coaches from 1999-2006 (including our beloved Kevin Constantine). The ownership had been in flux, heck, at one point the team had owed their creditors $90 Million dollars (Mario being one of the creditors).

If an NHL team came to you with that scenario in 2011, I don’t think Sly James would see them as the right “fit”. I hear the goal is to be the #1 relocation market for an NHL team. I thought we were #1 once before. You can’t be #1 without a hint of an ownership group.

Interpretation of all this: “We (AEG) are making a lot of $$ on this arena and if we had an anchor tenant we’d have to throw a bunch of lease concessions at that owner cutting into our profits.”

While the game was outstanding, the attendance and atmosphere were great, let’s take the sell out with a grain of salt, please.

What was the average price point for these 17,000+ tickets? I would guess most people took advantage of the “four lower level tickets for $99″ offer. Upper level seats went for $20 or less. SROs were available for $11.

The average price point of this game was WAY lower than a “real” NHL game. These tickets were priced to fill the building not priced like an NHL game. It’s a smart strategy. It’s what I like to call “sound bit strategy”. You see it used in politics all the time. All people see is “Wow, lots of people went to the NHL game at Sprint Center.” They don’t consider at what price they got in the building and how a different price would affect their decision making.

Just because lots of people buy Two Buck Chuck at Trader Joe’s doesn’t mean those same people would buy a $52 bottle of Jordan.

One “fan” on one of the TV station’s stories said “it’s cheap entertainment”. Really? Ever been to Dallas? The Missouri Mavs are cheap entertainment. The Milwaukee Admirals are cheap entertainment. This preseason game was cheap entertainment. The NHL has never been confused with cheap entertinament.

Last I saw, the average NHL ticket price was around $52. Now, being that KC is a smaller city and demand would be lower, I would suspect an average ticket in KC may run around $42. Still…anyone who says $84 for two tickets is “cheap entertainment” doesn’t live in my neighborhood. One person asked me last night if I would get season tickets if we had a team here. I said, “Yeah, of course I would. But I’d try to split it with five or six other guys.”

Last night, I paid $25 for my ticket in the lower level behind the goal. I parked a few blocks away on the street between P&L and the Crossroads district for free. I had two beers — a Sam Adams and a Miller Lite — and a pretzel. I also bought a charity raffle ticket for $5. Total bill for the night $50. Not sure I would get one ticket for $50 if it was a “real” NHL game.

It was a wonderful game.
The crowd was great.

It’s a terrific building for hockey.

We also need to sell at least 10,000 seats to the NCAA Ice Breaker Hockey Tournament next Fall — a tournament that drew less than 5,000 per game in St. Louis. If we draw well for the Ice Breaker, maybe we could get a Frozen Four. Now THAT is an attainable goal

What we really need is for someone to step up and grow this sport from the grassroots in Kansas City. The building that formerly housed a dual sheet ice facility in Johnson Count is now being used to sell used baby gear. Yeah, that’s right. Instead of teaching the younger generation of Kansas City how to ice skate, play hockey and figure skate, the building is being used to sell spit up stained Baby Bjorns. Nice.

You can’t have a “real” NHL city without a way to get the youth of the city involved in the sport.

About blogger

Just a guy in KC who loves hockey. KC is a hockey town. We just don't know it, yet.
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3 Responses to “Patient” KC hockey fans sell out Sprint Center preseason game

  1. Topeka Blade says:

    It’s a great description of Tuesday night, and you make a lot of great points. Nothing I could question or argue about, really. I had a great time, but then, I went as a lifetime Pens’ fan who grew up in Western Pennsylvania. If the Pens’ hadn’t been playing, I’m not sure i would have been there.

    Which brings up a point about the game–the number of people wearing Pens’ clothing. I’m sure there are a number of people who are Pens’ fans because they’re doing well at the moment. But there are a number of transplants like myself, who came to the Metro and the general area when the steel industry collapsed back in Western Pa. They came for the jobs, and they still root for the Pittsburgh teams.

    I do wonder if they would have sold out Tuesday night if this was a repeat of the Kings and the Islanders from two years ago. I have my doubts. But since there is “no urgency” to get a team now, would it have mattered?

  2. STLBlues89 says:

    I totally agree with your statement that in order to have a “real” NHL city we need youth involvement. I am originally from St Louis, in KC for college, and back home the amateur hockey scene is very strong. We have many area rinks and dozens of youth hockey clubs, every girl/women leagues. Not including our high school league, which I have personally played in, midstates hockey (http://www.midstateshockey.org/) which has over 40+ area high school clubs, and whose championship game is played in front of thousands at the scottrade center in st Louis (blues home ice) which is televised on Fox Sports Midwest. Most of our regular season games (high school hockey mind you) drew crowds of 400+ (our fans not including other teams) on school nights. I played for Oakville Hockey club; with Pat Maroon a current mighty duck (NHL) and have other friends who have played in all various college/minor leagues. I personally believe that hockey does have a shot in KC, but in order to grow the sport and gain status as a real hockey town we must grow amateur hockey in KC. Until we have a NHL team in KC… LET’S GO BLUES!!!!!!!! Playoffs 2012.

  3. blogger says:

    Good points. They are totally lost on the people of KC who are “trying” to bring an NHL team here. You have to start from the ground floor and the ground floor is getting more rinks so youth (and adults for that matter) have a place to experience the game.

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