Once again, The Kansas City Star continues its always-look-on-the-bright-side-of-life coverage of the Sprint Center’s inability to land a big-name tenant.
AEG finally admitted in this article from today's paper that the Sprint Center will open in October without a NBA or NHL franchise. But the Star’s Randy Covitz dutifully reported the spin from Tim Leiweke, president of AEG, the company that's supposed to be finding us a tenant. Covitz reported Leiweke claiming that he has "spent more time on a team in Kansas City in the last two weeks than at any time I have been involved in this project ... more time than we spent on the Penguins."
This is an alarming statement. More time now than ever? What about the months he was courting the Penguins?
Then Covitz quotes Rick Horrow, a Florida-based sports dealmaker, saying, “Last year's Penguins are this year's SuperSonics and maybe next year's Predators.”
Uh, probably not for Kansas City. Oklahoma City businessman Clay Bennett bought the Sonics last year and wants to move the team to Las Vegas. Kansas City is an afterthought in every story about the Sonics’ potential relocation.
Then Horrow talks about his experience getting Miami an NBA franchise: "When I was involved in the south Florida expansion effort, we waited for seven years between the time there was a desire to build a new arena and the awarding of the Miami Heat. That doesn't mean it's going to take seven years in Kansas City, but the judgment of a success or failure of an arena shouldn't depend on the attraction of a major-league sports franchise, nor how quickly it happens."
The NBA awarded Miami the Heat in 1988. The team played in the newly opened Miami Arena. In a killer story last year, The Seattle Post-Intelligencer reported that the Heat burned out of the Miami Arena for the brand-new American Airlines Arena in 2000, sticking Miami-Dade County with nearly $42 million of the bill for the Miami Arena unpaid.
Don’t be fooled. Kansas City is on the clock. In seven years or less, the Sprint Center will be considered obsolete by the standards of today’s NBA and NHL owners. The older the building gets, the less likely Kansas City is to lure a team. And other cities will have built newer arenas.
Still buying what Covitz is selling?
The Los Angeles Times ran the headline “When will it become obsolete?” the day the Staples Center opened in 1999.
Timothy Chapin, an urban planning professor at Florida State University, told the Post-Intelligencer that obsolete to an NBA owner doesn’t mean the arena is crumbling. To the Clay Bennetts and Mario Lemieuxs of the world, obsolete means: "We want more seats; we want more suites. We can make more money in a bigger arena. It's not a matter of our building being bad. It's a matter of the team not being able to make as much money as they could in a new arena."
Despite what you read in the Star, it’s worth repeating: We’re pucked. -- Justin Kendall