SBD/July 15, 2011/Facilities

Sprint Center Seeing Success Without NBA Or NHL Team As Anchor Tenant

Kansas City received $1.8M in revenues last year from the Sprint Center

Four years after its opening, Sprint Center “has never seemed further from landing an anchor tenant,” according to the K.C. STAR's Pete Grathoff, who writes under the header, "Sprint Center Doing Fine Without NHL Or NBA Franchise.” The NBA is “embroiled in a labor dispute that makes expansion appear ludicrous and relocation a long shot.” The Thrashers recently relocated to Winnipeg, but there was “nary a mention of the team moving to KC.” Former Predators investor William “Boots” Del Biaggio at one time “showed interest in owning an NHL team that would play at the Sprint Center,” but he was “apparently alone.” It appears that AEG, which operates the facility, had “no backup plan when Del Biaggio bugged out.” AEG President & CEO Tim Leiweke "declined to comment" on if someone else is looking to bring a team to K.C. because he is on the NHL Exec Committee, which oversees team relocations. Grathoff notes one thing Leiweke “did promise -- and deliver on -- was that the arena would be successful with or without an anchor tenant.” The city’s share of Sprint Center revenues last year was $1.8M, “thanks largely to a seemingly endless string of major entertainment events.” Meanwhile, the most recent Forbes valuations “showed that 33 of 60 NHL and NBA teams had negative operating profits.” The arena also was a “key component in keeping the Big 12 basketball tournament in town.” Adding an anchor tenant at the Sprint Center “could make it difficult for AEG to schedule concerts, which has earned the company a pretty penny.” NBA Commissioner David Stern in April said that his league “hasn’t ruled out Kansas City as a potential market.” But while the Hornets are “often rumored to be a relocation candidate,” Webster Univ. economics professor Patrick Rishe “has his doubts.” Rishe: “I think if you’re going to see anything in the NBA, it’s going to be contraction of two teams at some point in the next couple of years rather than seeing a relocation” (K.C. STAR, 7/15).

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