Yael T. Abouhalkah

KC doesn’t need an NBA or NHL team at the Sprint Center

Updated: 2013-06-25T22:27:47Z

By Yael T. Abouhalkah

The Kansas City Star

As the latest figures show, the Sprint Center is doing just fine without an NBA or NHL team.

In fact, Kansas City doesn’t need a major league basketball or hockey team messing things up for its very successful downtown arena.

A pro hockey or basketball club would scoop up the best dates at the arena, around 40 or so a year. The club would demand most or all of the concession revenue and other fees that now help keep the arena operating.

The city would lose the freedom it has to attract first-class concerts on certain dates, or other national-class events.

Here’s another reason to let the dream go: Kansas City doesn’t have the deep-pocket owners necessary to bankroll a National Basketball Association or National Hockey League club. Heck, both the owners of our other major teams — the Chiefs and Royals — already live out of town.

In addition, there aren’t enough pro basketball or hockey fans in this city to support a team even if we got one. The region lacks enough people who could afford to routinely go to those games, especially if these fans already are paying for Chiefs and/or Royals tickets.

No wonder the NHL and NBA gods haven’t given Kansas City much of a look whenever expansion has been discussed or when teams have talked about moving.

Mayor Sly James got it right recently when he said it would take a “whole hell of a lot” to get a major league hockey or basketball team to Kansas City.

“It wasn’t something recommended to be done,” James noted, because it could take the Sprint Center from a profit to a loss.

In addition, a prospective owner likely would demand a multimillion-dollar subsidy from taxpayers to come here. Part of that might come in the form of improvements the owner would want made to the Sprint Center, which isn’t even a decade old yet.

Sure, the fanatics in town will say we just need to see the major league product to appreciate it. But history does not bear that out.

Kansas City has had minor league hockey and, occasionally, basketball for decades. And neither sport has made much of an impact, no matter where it has been played. Don’t forget that major league hockey and basketball clubs also once were here but eventually left, a long time ago.

Finally, area residents have plenty of places to spend their entertainment dollars when it comes to sports teams. Adding a pro hockey or basketball team at the Sprint Center isn’t necessary to improve the image of Kansas City. Plus, it could really hurt the Sprint Center.

To reach Yael T. Abouhalkah, call 816-234-4887 or send email to abouhalkah@kcstar.com. He blogs at voices.kansascity.com. Follow him at Twitter.com/YaelTAbouhalkah.

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