Earlier in July, Matt called Kansas City’s Sprint Center a “forgotten arena.” Now it might be more appropriate to call it “abandoned.”
Such an idea is founded upon the ripple effect of the announcement that AEG (the company that owns both the Sprint Center and the Los Angeles Kings) put together a financial plan to build an NFL stadium in Los Angeles. Sam Mellinger of the Kansas City Star writes that the attention and investments put into that project would be so substantial that the Sprint Center – and it’s dream to host an NHL and/or NBA team – will probably be left in the dust.
The Sprint Center hasn’t seen anything beyond preseason games since it opened its doors in 2007, but this possibility could make the Pittsburgh Penguins-Los Angeles Kings exhibition far more bitter than sweat this summer. Here’s what Mellinger wrote about Tim Leiweke and AEG.
If you still hold out any hope for a team coming to the Sprint Center, you should know the company that bragged about making it all happen for us is no longer motivated to work on our behalf.
It’s telling that Leiweke is quoted constantly in the Los Angeles media but hasn’t talked to anyone in Kansas City in quite some time. He didn’t return multiple messages for this column.
He is among the most powerful men in sports and most visible figures in LA — sitting courtside at Lakers games — but he’s mostly a ghost when it comes to what was once presented in Kansas City.
The official line out of AEG is that Leiweke will comment when something meaningful happens, which realistically means never.
Ouch. To be fair to Leiweke and AEG, it really might not be about neglect. It would be one thing if it seemed like they lost interest in trying to remedy the situation immediately after the arena was built. Instead, the Sprint Center received attention in relocation rumors for the better part of four years, but nothing seems to work out.
Yet for all the doom and gloom, it’s far from safe to assume that something good won’t ever happen for Kansas City. The NBA’s possible lockout could force teams to either relocate or contract altogether. The NHL still has its fair share of franchises who are losing money, with the New York Islanders ranking among the teams that need a new arena the most.
It’s tough to deny the notion that this is another setback for the market’s hopes of landing a professional sports team, but it’s too early to give up on their long-term prospects. Things change quickly in the atmosphere of sports ownership. If you don’t believe me, take a look at the Winnipeg Jets.
(H/T to Sean Leahy of Puck Daddy.)