So, it happens every few years or so. NHL expansion talk heats up. It took a backseat last year because the NHL was struggling with labor peace. Then, when the 8-year CBA was finally ratified and divisions realigned, expansion talk began again.
And, now, that expansion talk centers around Seattle (and a few other markets that really don’t add much to the NHL’s footprint.)
I’m going to write a series of blog posts to share my thoughts around NHL expansion and how it may relate to Kansas City. I’m going to start with the Pitch’s recent blog post referencing David Shoalts’ article in the Toronto Globe & Mail. The Pitch accurately reported that Shoalts wrote a story about NHL expansion and how Kansas City was not mentioned. However, Mr. Shoalts also appeared on the Marek V Wyshynski podcast. The long form interview of a podcast better reflected his conversation with NHL brass. Basically, the NHL is at least five years away from expansion. Seattle is definitely in play. However, the other markets who may be in play come and go rather quickly. The fact that Kansas City wasn’t mentioned was significant — for now. Kansas City has been in favor, fallen out, and may very well be in favor again in the future as Shoalts says gaining NHL Supreme Overlord Gary Bettman’s favor is rather fluid.
What bothered me most is the comments on Facebook to the Pitch’s story. It made me realize that people really are morons. The idiotic posts are exactly the reason why Kansas City is in this position in the first place. Tim Lieweke and Kay Barnes (mostly Tim Lieweke) knew he could pull the wool over dem rubes in Kansas City by throwing out
promises suggestions that if Kansas City built a first nearly first class arena that the city could attract an NHL or NBA franchise. This was never, ever true. Yet, the lightly informed masses bought into it hook, line and sinker, including the local media, and paraded to the polls for the hotel/rental car tax to pass, without opposition. Just like the lightly informed masses now make comments like “Kansas City isn’t a hockey town” and they make these comments without opposition…again. No one in the sports media is going to say, “Yes, we are a hockey town. Yes, we’re a basketball town, too. We could be either.” like they should. Instead members of the media have to cater to simpletons, so they are going to continue with this ridiculous NHL vs NBA discussion.
Look people, IT’S NOT ABOUT WHETHER KANSAS CITY IS A HOCKEY (OR BASKETBALL) TOWN. Read that again and get it through your heads. It is not about whether Kansas City is an NHL (or NBA) town.
Here’s what this situation is NOT about:
-Whether Kansas City is an NHL town
-Whether Kansas City is an NBA town
-Whether Sprint Center operates at a profit
Here’s what this situation IS about:
-No owner has ever been identified (oops, there was Boots…how does it feel to have the wool pulled over your eyes Mr. Lieweke?)
-AEG doesn’t want to share revenue with a NHL (or NBA) franchise owner in a building in which they have complete, unfettered control and have to answer to no one.
-No NHL (or NBA) franchise owner is going to want to put an expansion team or relocate a team to a building in which they do not control all (or a significant portion of) non-hockey (or basketball)-related revenue. What does that mean? The Nashville Predators owners MAKE MONEY every time there is a concert in Bridgestone Arena. The Boston Bruins owners MAKE MONEY every time there is a concert in TD Bank Garden. I could go on and on and on with examples like these.
-AEG is actively pursuing an arena in a market with which Kansas City is, kind of, competing for an NHL or NBA franchise. A market that, unlike Kansas City, may have an owner for an NHL team — Las Vegas.
-Cordish is actively pursuing an arena in a market with which Kansas City is, kind of, competing for an NHL or NBA franchise. A market that, unlike Kansas City, may have an owner for an NHL team — Las Vegas.
-Kansas City-based sports architecture firms are lined up to build that arena in a market with which Kansas City is, kind of, competing for an NHL or NBA franchise.
The myth of what this is actually about is also perpetuated by a Mayor (who I like, Yael) who speaks in vague generalities like, “They say now isn’t a good time to pursue a franchise” when the Coyotes may have been ripe to move. Who the F is “They”? Who is this “they” that is advising you on the direction of an arena the voters approved? Say something! And, it’s perpetuated by a local newspaper who has only touched on AEG’s rouse and has never really systematically evaluated the history of relocated NHL franchises or taken an in-depth look at the current NHL franchises leases to see if one may (they won’t) relocate. Of course, they are about 10 years late on that in-depth story.
In 2006, the Pitch did address the story quite well.
In the end, this has NOTHING to do with the type of sports town we are — NFL, MLB, college, NASCAR, soccer, hockey, basketball — whatever. That isn’t the issue.
It has everything to do with the complacency of a building that is turning a profit while P&L continues to drain money from city coffers.
And before Yael Abouhalkah tweets that I hate Sprint Center, I’ll say I think Sprint Center is great. National acts are coming to Kansas City in 2014 like Justin Timberlake, Katy Perry,
Dave Mathews Band, Pearl Jam and Santana. It hosts preseason hockey and basketball games, well-attended college basketball games, some horse shows, Cirque and it’s the soon-to-be-permanent home to the Big XII tournament because we all saw how much the Texas schools give a shit about the Big XII tournament. Seriously, how many fans outside of the legacy Big 8 fans did you see a couple weeks ago?
You know what? With all these things, we should be OK with Sprint Center
(as long as you are OK with P&L losing money…)