Editorials

No pro sports is still no big deal for the Sprint Center

Kansas City Mayor Pro Tem Cindy Circo (left) last week accepted a novelty check of $927,144 from Brenda Tinnen, AEG/Sprint Center general manager and senior vice president, at the Sprint Center.
Kansas City Mayor Pro Tem Cindy Circo (left) last week accepted a novelty check of $927,144 from Brenda Tinnen, AEG/Sprint Center general manager and senior vice president, at the Sprint Center. The Kansas City Star

Without a pro sports team weighing it down, Sprint Center remains one of the best investments Kansas Citians have made while helping to revive their downtown.

More evidence emerged last week when Sprint Center officials provided a profit-sharing payment of $927,144 to City Hall, bringing the total over the last decade to almost $10 million.

Voters in 2004 appropriately approved higher hotel and car-rental payments to build Sprint Center. As part of the negotiations, city officials chose Anschutz Entertainment Group to operate the facility. The company agreed to pour its own money into the building while working out a pact that splits some operating profits with the city.

At the time, some Kansas City sports fans hoped that the new arena would help the city woo a pro basketball or hockey team. But that effort has gone nowhere, partly because relatively few teams have moved in the last decade. The high cost of a successful bid also factors heavily in the process.

For instance, it would make little sense for Sprint Center officials to reduce their ability to get first-class concerts by setting aside 40 or so dates a season for a National Basketball Association team. In turn, that club could demand to take some or all of the fees and concession revenue during games at the center.

Sprint Center continues to be one of the top 10 arenas nationally in selling tickets for entertainment events.

Taxpayers haven’t had to spend extra funds to pay off the bonds that are supported with user fees. Stacked up against other public-private ventures, Sprint Center continues to pay big dividends for Kansas City.

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