Yael T. Abouhalkah

June 17, 2014

Kansas City could lose ‘Sprint Center’ and much more in T-Mobile merger

The rumors are flying about what happens if Sprint and T-Mobile merge. And while the outcome might be great for stockholders, Kansas City just might lose a lot in this deal.

The rumors are flying about what happens if Sprint merges with T-Mobile.

And while the financial outcomes might be great for stockholders in a $32 billion or so agreement, Kansas City could lose a lot in the deal. This merger bus is being driven by Sprint’s majority owner, Softbank.

First, we soon could be saying goodbye to the Sprint name. It’s believed to be history if a merger occurs.

Second, Sprint CEO Dan Hesse reportedly would not be in charge of a newly merged company. So there goes a powerful and longtime civic leader.

Third, the wildly successful Sprint Center most likely would have to get a new name if the Sprint name goes away.

Fourth — and this is the biggest unknown — Kansas City could be in danger of losing jobs after the merger, especially if the new CEO wants to move the corporation’s top dogs to California (closer to Japan, home of SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son) or T-Mobile USA’s headquarters in Bellevue, Wash.

So what’s the likely successor when it comes to names?

Some people are putting their eggs in the T-Mobile basket, pointing out that it is a widely know brand worldwide, with decent marks for quality. And if the new company wants to put some fear into Verizon and AT&T — the big players in the cellphone market — the new firm has to be a recognizable brand.

So that might mean in the future we will be going downtown to something called “T-Mobile Center.”

But there’s apparently some thought that the new company might be called Softbank USA.

So ... grab your friends and let’s go catch a basketball game at “Softbank USA Center”?

Hmm. Actually, that has a nice ring to it.

Of course, Softbank USA — or T-Mobile or whatever the name of the new company becomes — will sound even better to Kansas City officials as long as it keeps paying the annual naming rights for the arena.

However, if the city loses jobs because of the merger, that could put a damper on a lot of excitement that now surrounds Sprint’s future plans.

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

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