Though there are no NBA or NHL teams playing in Sprint Center, the arena is doing just fine by one important measure: it’s generating economic activity in downtown Kansas City.
That’s according to a economic study commissioned by AEG, the arena-management firm that invested over $53 million in the project and holds management rights to the facility. Sprint Center was build with the assumption that there would be no pro sports there, so other events of all kinds — concerts, meetings, etc. — would need to pay the freight. And that’s exactly what has happened. From the Kansas City Star:
When it comes to direct spending over its first five years, the Sprint Center kicked in $213.3 million to the city economy; another $202.7 million to the broader metropolitan economy, and an additional $227.1 million to the state of Missouri, according to the report.
“These numbers speak to the tremendous economic impact the Sprint Center has on Missouri on a year-to-year basis,” said Katie Steele Danner, director of the Missouri Division of Tourism….
As for taxes generated directly and indirectly by the arena, the study estimated the city received $9.4 million during the first five years, and the state collected almost $19 million. Again, the caveat was some of those tax revenues were calculated using a “multiplier” formula.
Though there was talk of investors pursuing an NHL team several years ago, Kansas City has not even come up during discussions of potential new homes for the Phoenix Coyotes. And, apparently, that’s OK with the locals: a sports team would demand prime dates and perhaps even an operating subsidy.
Sprint Center should be a blueprint for any city considering putting money into a new downtown arena: don’t be swayed by the glittery promises associated with professional sports when there are plenty of non-pro-sports events available to sustain arena finances.