The Sprint Center has proven to be effective in drawing major events to downtown Kansas City, but some are sill wondering it the arena should host a major sports tenant.
Since opening in October 2007, the Sprint Center has drawn major concerts and other gatherings into Kansas City while also attracting interesting from the sports world–including the Big 12, which hosts its annual men’s basketball tournament at the venue.
It has also been discussed, but to no avail, as a potential home for an NBA or NHL franchise. Numerous reports over the years have linked the Sprint Center to expansion or existing teams within both leagues, but in most cases–including the Pittsburgh Penguins in the NHL and the Sacramento Kings in the NBA–the teams opted to stay in their current markets.
The Sprint Center’s primary exposure to major sports comes in the form of exhibition games. The St. Louis Blues took on the Washington Capitals in a preseason game at the venue on Wednesday, while the Miami Heat and Minnesota Timberwolves are set to face off at the Sprint Center on Saturday.
Having professional games in town has certainly revived talk of attracting a team to the Sprint Center, at least among Kansas City’s sports faithful, which has been supportive of events at the Sprint Center. That enthusiasm is key to the Sprint Center, with or without a major sports tenant. More from KHSB:
“We like to think that we brought a lot of energy into the neighborhood,” explained Sprint Center Senior Vice President and General Manager Brenda Tinnen. “It’s great to see so many people out on the street enjoying this.”
After efforts to attract teams like the Pittsburgh Penguins to Kansas City fell short, Tinnen said the arena has still been able to flourish.
“Obviously, with the lack of an anchor tenant, we have an open calendar, and I think we have a lot of diversity in terms of the events we have here,” she said.
With Sprint Center continuing to be one of the busiest arenas across the country, Tinnen added that enthusiasm surrounding events at the arena has added to its success.
While there does not appear to be any developments in the offing, the arrival of an NHL or NBA franchise in Kansas City would end a long drought for either’s leagues presence in the city. The Kansas City Kings were the last NBA squad to call the city home–moving to Sacramento after the 1984-98 season–while the NHL’s Kansas City Scouts played in there from 1974 to 1976. Both teams were based at Kemper Arena.