Friday, June 30, 2006

Any question whether the NHL is healthy?

There shouldn't be.NHL makes save in return to ice

The on-ice product improved dramatically:

Difference from 2003-04
100-point scorers: 2005-06 SEVEN 2003-04: ZERO
50+ goal scorers: 2005-06 FIVE 2003-04: ZERO
Point-a-game scorers: up 360%
30+ goal scorers: up 135%
Hat tricks: up 72%
Lead changes within a single game: up 29%
Suspensions: down 51%

And a great discussion on the NHL's return with some of the games most respected hockey writers.
NHL Roundtable: The Writers' Edition

We feel the need to tell people we have this great game and you're not paying attention to it. Who cares? At a certain point, as long as this CBA has worked it to a place where everybody is making a profit, why does everybody have to make a killing? If the league is OK and it's not going to go away, then why do we dwell on these ratings so much? If people are ignorant of our game out there, too bad, you're missing something great.

There's nothing wrong with being a niche, there's nothing wrong with being what you are.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

San Jose enters the mix for an NBA team

Late last week I posted a story about Henry Samueli, Anaheim Ducks owner who also owns the Arrowhead Pond, stating that he is interested in purchasing an NBA team that would play in the Pond.

Now, the San Jose Sharks are interested in an NBA team joining them in the HP Pavilion.

Sharks interested in NBA -- NHL team seeking help from San Jose

The city owns HP Pavilion, but, according to the lease agreement, the Sharks control the arena's revenue.

Of course, the Golden State Warriors, who play in Oakland, would object to a team in San Jose since they claim they have territorial rights to the Silicon Valley city.

Regardless, KC sports fans cannot just assume we are next on the list for an NBA team. Other cities, like Anaheim, San Jose and Oklahoma City are interested in the NBA, too.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

More on Cuban-Murstein

The stories are coming in quickly.

Cuban joins financier's bid for Penguins

Cuban, Marino join financier's bid to buy Penguins

Dallas Morning News -- Cuban joins Marino in bid for Penguins

Nail in the coffin of the Pens to KC rumor

It was reported today on ESPN 1250 in Pittsburgh and in the Pittsburgh papers that Mark Cuban and Dan Marino are joining Andrew Murstein's bid to purchase the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Cuban and Marino are Pittsburgh natives. Cuban grew up in Mt. Lebanon, PA and Marino grew up in Oakland, PA. Marino also played at Pitt.

The Murstein group says they are committed to keeping the team in Pittsburgh and are willing to play in Mellon Arena. Murstein said in an interview today that other groups approached Cuban. Cuban decided to join the Murstein group because of the committment to his hometown.

Cuban wrote in an e-mail,

"To help keep the team in Pittsburgh," he wrote. "That's a condition of my participation."

The Penguins stay in Pittsburgh may not be tied to the Pittsburgh-area slots parlor license afterall. If the Murstein group buys the team, and with Cuban's passion and financial backing there is no reason to assume they won't, the team will stay.

KC Hockey fans, the KC Star, KC Business Journal, local radio and TV stations have not done a very good job of reporting this story. They have not reported, in any depth, what is actually going on and continue to sensationalize the story with headlines like "Penguins may still nest in KC". They took the comments of AEG and NHL21 at face value.

This is not a question of whether we, Kansas City sports fans, WANT the NHL or NBA.

It is a question of whether the NHL or NBA wants us.
AEG says they do. In reality, it looks like we, and our wonderful new arena, are simply pawns in other cities' chess games to get new arenas or for franchises' to get better lease agreements.

A quote from today's article in the Pittsburgh paper.

The Penguins' current owners are accepting official offers this week and are expected to pick a winner in the next two weeks.

In two short weeks, this story may be dead.

The other bidders are Clarion Capital Partners, a New York private equity firm headed by managing partner Marc Utay; Ohio businessman Jim Renacci; Massachusetts real estate developer Lawrence Gottesdiener; and Toronto real estate developers David and Sam Fingold.

Only one group among these five has mentioned KC, David and Sam Fingold.

I said months ago, with the announcement of Pittsburgh's Plan B, that the Pens aren't coming. Now, I am even more confident that Sprint Center will NOT have an NHL team in 2007-08.

Can those in a position of power please start turning their attention to more realistic goals, like getting us an AHL team and, perhaps more importantly, a soccer-specific facility for the Wizards?

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Dark cloud covers Sonics and it isn't just Pac NW rain

Dark cloud covers Sonics

Interesting article about the Sonics' future in Seattle. This columnist thinks the city and the Sonics are at a crossroads and that the Sonics will just play out their Key Arena lease (2010) and then just leave...yet not out of the Seattle area, but to a suburb like Bellevue.

From the discussion, as well as previous news coverage of the saga, the Sonics seem destined to serve out their KeyArena lease through 2010 and then leave. In my view, the consolation prize is that they won't go far, probably to a new arena in Bellevue.

Which seems odd because the Seattle-Tacoma area would then have three major indoor arenas, KeyArena, Tacoma Dome and the proposed arena in Bellevue.

He suggests a new arena in Bellevue would motivate the Sonics to put more money toward the project.

Would it be better in Bellevue? In principle, yes. A big, new arena free of the KeyArena footprint, the Center dilemma and city officials' reluctance would be more likely to generate bigger revenue from a wealthier demographic, thereby inspiring the Sonics' owners to invest considerably more in such a project than the $18 million now on the table for KeyArena.

I know the big question is NBA or NHL in KC, but it just doesn't seem like the NBA is interested and it doesn't seem like the NHL has any teams willing to move...

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Wall Street Journal says KC's quest is misguided

Arenas of Dreams:
But Will Teams Come?

The Wall Street Journal recently wrote an article about our new Sprint Center and the "if you build it, they will come" attitude toward attracting an NHL or NBA team. The article says that we don't even have a minor league team for the area, which actually isn't true because the Brigade could play there and there is an opportunity to get into the AHL every year.

Are we misguided by trying to attract an NHL or NBA team when, by some accounts, these teams only add to a city's self image and not to a city's bottom line (and could operate at a loss).

Once again, the article has some factual errors (will there ever be an article when these journalists get the story right?)

Kansas City was once home to major-league hockey and basketball teams but lost both in the 1980s to other cities.

We lost a hockey team in the 1980s? Hmm, because, by all accounts, we lost the Kansas City Scouts in 1976 after two seasons.KC Scouts on Hockeydb

Tulsa, Okla., for example, is constructing the 18,000-seat Bank of Oklahoma Center to help it land the likes of the NCAA men's Big 12 basketball tournament, rock concerts and family events such as Champions on Ice. The arena, designed by architect Cesar Pelli, will also be home to minor-league hockey and arena football.

Tulsa is building at 18,000 seat arena?


Read this next quote from the article, as "your with me leather" would say, "Ouch, babe."

In "The Economics of Sports Facilities and Their Communities," published in 2000 in the Journal of Economic Perspectives, authors Andrew Zimbalist of Smith College and John Siegfried of Vanderbilt University argue that "independent work on the economic impact of stadiums and arenas has uniformly found that there is no statistically significant positive correlation between sports facility construction and economic development."

Now, the building is going to cost more than originally expected.

With Ms. Barnes pressing for a "cutting-edge, destination attraction," the overall cost of the project has crept up 10% above its original estimate of $250 million.

Who didn't see this coming? These things never come in under budget. Plus, the design consortium guys want to make this arena a crown jewel of their design because how bad would it look to have a crappy arena in HOK Sports' hometown?

The district, which is expected to open next year, replaces a blighted swath of surface parking lots, adult bookstores and strip clubs.

Oh, c'mon. That is an exaggeration and kind of p's me off.
I haven't worked downtown in about eight years, but from what I recall the arena and P&L District is replacing, mostly, parking lots.

"People here are hungry for a team," says Kevin Gray, president of the Kansas City Sports Commission. "We're confident we'll get one."

Ugh, when is this guy going to go away. On his watch we lost the Big XII tourney, Big XII offices, the Blades, Knights, Attack and Royals (oops, only seems like the Royals are gone). He was in support of the silly idea to bring UHL hockey here and will be in charge of the Sports Commission when the Wizards go dark for a year and, maybe, forever.

I'm sure he'll claim some success for our wonderful Speedway when we should be give Carol Marinovich a parade each year for the unbridled success of the Speedway and the area around it.

KC Star says: Penguins may still land here...nothing new here.

Penguins still may end up nesting here

If you read, there is not one thing in this article you wouldn't already know.

The second pick in the draft belongs to the Pittsburgh Penguins, and their selection has a chance of playing in a Kansas City uniform when the Sprint Center opens in the fall of 2007.

Wow, that's misleading the KC public. According to Pittsburgh papers, there are up to FIVE (possibly seven) bidders for the Penguins and only one wants to move the team, Fingold.

If Kansas City has a chance, it is a 20% or 14% chance of the Penguins playing in KC.

Covitz hits the high points, but seems to have interviewed just one person, Fingold. When did one source stories become OK? Covitz didn't interview Larry Gottesdiener, who wants to buy the team and keep them in Pittsburgh or move them to Hartford.

Stay tuned here. I'll keep you more up-to-date than the Star.

KC Biz journal chimes in on the Pens

Bidder remains interested in bringing NHL team to KC
The Kansas City Business Journal has a very short article about Sam Fingold and his possible purchase of the Pittsburgh Penguins.

There is nothing in this article that you wouldn't already know if you read this blog.

Well, you would learn some new, inaccurate things like:

The sale of the Pittsburgh Penguins of the National Hockey League will enter a new stage in July, and could be completed by June of 2007, according to a Connecticut developer who has talked of buying the team and moving it to Kansas City.

June 2007? Really? Because the Pittsburgh papers, which I'm guessing have a better grasp of the situation, say it will be final before the 2006-07 season, which starts this October.

Sam Fingold, owner of Kenyon Investments LLC in Hartford, Conn., said he remains interested in buying the Penguins.

What did I say months ago? Sam Fingold -- Get to know him!

Several other casinos have submitted bids for the license, which should be granted by the state by the end of this year.

Several? Try two other casinos. And, one is a small fish, Don Barden's North Star, playing in a pond which is way too big for his little fins.

It's between gaming giant Harrah's and Isle of Capri.

Penguins sale process heating up.

Penguins' sale talks picking up steam
Will the Pittsburgh Penguins move to KC?

It depends on three things:
-Who purchases the Penguins? They are for sale right now and the sale should be final before the next hockey season begins in October.

-Will Pittsburgh get a new arena to replace aging Mellon Arena?
Whether Pittsburgh gets a new arena is much more complicated. However, if the city does not get a new arena, then the new owner will have to WANT to come to KC.

As it stands now, it seems only ONE of the FIVE groups bidding for the team are interested in moving to KC.

It's believed there are interested parties who have not been identified who want to relocate the team to various cities in Canada, Houston or Las Vegas.

Hmmm, no mention of KC. However, I think this is BS because Sam Fingold said that he looked into Las Vegas and says it is not a viable NHL market.

Sam Fingold says he'd move the Penguins to KC if Pittsburgh doesn't get a new arena.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Hey KC, get behind LA for an NBA team.

Henry Samueli, the owner of the Anaheim Ducks and the Arrowhead Pond, is trying to lure an NBA team to is arena.

By Any Name, Samueli Wants an NBA Team
He may even buy a team and put them in the Pond, which puts him one up on us. We don't hae a local owner willing to purchase either an NBA or NHL team and put them in KC.

Samueli said he and his wife, Susan, had met with NBA Commissioner David Stern and asked whether the league would allow a third team in Southern California. "He said that's certainly a possibility," Samueli said. "He did not rule that out."

By the way, the Anaheim Ducks are no longer "Mighty...of" and they no longer have those awful eggplant uniforms. They switched colors and logo.

Though unremarkable, it is an improvement from the Emilio Estevez, Joshua Jackson, Keenan Thompson-inspired logo.

And, at this time I must pay homage to one of the great actors of our time, Lane Smith. The Mighty Ducks, My Cousin Vinny and Lois and Clark (wife's fave) wouldn't be the same without him.

One week to go!

Wow! Do I have a lot of stuff for you this weekend.

I'll be uploading at least four stories after this one.

Sprint Center's Web site says 473 more days!

However, the biggest event in Sprint Center's future begins in SEVEN days.

On July 1, the Pittsburgh Penguins are no longer restricted, by their lease, from initiating conversations with prospective buyers.

Beginning July 1, it's on. Can Pittsburgh save their team?

Will the team move to KC, Houston, Hartford or Hamilton, Ontario?

Stayed tuned to this Web site and I will provide more up-to-date information than you will receive from the local paper or radio/TV stations.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Nashville and Predators agree to play nice

Over the past few weeks, Nashville's Metro Sports Autority and the Predators hockey franchise have engaged in an ugly back-and-forth over, what else, money.

Well, today the Nashville Tennessean says the two sides are willing to play nice.

The city and the pro hockey team will start meeting next week without lawyers present as they try to cool a dispute that has put about $28 million in taxpayer dollars at risk.

Regardless, I still think the Predators are a candidate for relocation to Sprint Center.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Predators could break lease for $30M

If the Nashville Predators decide to break their lease at the Gaylord Entertainment Center, they will owe the city $28M.

Honestly, $28M doesn't seem like the much considering how much money professional sports franchises earn (and spend). If the Preds decide to leave Nashville and sign a 25-year lease somewhere else, they only need to make an extra $2.1M per year over the course of the lease (assuming 5% interest) to pay off the $28M.

Doesn't seem like much of a penalty.

However, according to the Tennessean, if the city is found at fault, for not properly upgrading the facility, the Preds could get out of the lease for a whopping $0M.
$28 million on line in Preds feud

One Councilwoman, Brenda Gilmore, fears the Predators may leave

"My fear is we will invest almost $8 million to make improvements, and they will pack up and leave Nashville," she said. "There doesn't seem to be a lot of loyalty there. And taxpayers again will be left holding the bag."

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Preds vs. Nashville -- "Ugly"

What did I say four days ago?

I said something smells bad about the situation in Nashville. I called it "ugly".

Well, now the Tennessean is calling "ugly", too. I've read this article more than once and The Tennessean's David Climer does an excellent job of telling the story.
Ugly game is a faceoff of lawyers

I love Climer's reference to Warren Zevon's Lawyers, Guns and Money. The bottom line is summed up in these two paragraphs:

Metro attorneys want the Preds to pony up with a $10 million letter of credit or some other means of financial assurance that they say would bring the team into compliance with the "tangible net worth" portion of the original contract with the city.

Predators attorneys countered with a letter this week demanding the city pay more than $1 million to cover bonus fees to Powers Management, which runs the downtown arena, and buy equipment for the facility.

Climer even asks the question KC-ians want to hear.

Are the Predators in this for the long haul? And do enough people in the area care about hockey and/or the Preds to make this marriage work in the long term?

Attendance for Predators' games is a good news/bad new scenario. Attendance is up, however paid attendance is still below the break-even level (rumored to be about 13,000)

After three years of declining attendance in the seasons before the lockout, Preds officials indicated attendance was up roughly 10 percent this season. But paid attendance — not including complimentary tickets, which often number well into four figures for weeknight games — remained below 13,000 a game.

That set off an alarm.

And there's nothing like an alarm to wake up the lawyers.

Perhaps familiarity breeds contempt, but I just don't see this kind of reporting in the KC sports page.

Friday, June 16, 2006

NHL tickets too expensive? Says who?

What are the average ticket prices for NHL games?
Well, here is the answer from the LA Times.
Average ticket prices for NHL teams was $41.19

So, when some uninformed blowhard who has never lived outside of Kansas City or Pittsburg, Ks says "NHL tickets are too expensive" tell them the average ticket price in a comparable market, like Buffalo, is $30.

The highest average ticket price is the Philadelphia Flyers at $54.81 (and they still sell out, by the way).
Flyers raise ticket prices

1. Philadelphia $54.81
2. New Jersey $54.67
3. Vancouver $54.08
4. Boston $53.05
5. Minnesota $50.11
6. Toronto $49.23
7. Montreal $47.58
8. N.Y. Rangers $44.63
9. Tampa Bay $44.27
10. N.Y. Islanders $44.01
11. KINGS $43.82
12. Edmonton $43.46
13. Detroit $43.13
14. Atlanta $41.68
15. Columbus $41.62
16. Calgary $40.92
17. Ottawa $40.76
18. St. Louis $39.92
19. Colorado $38.48
20. Chicago $38.26
21. Washington $38.15
22. Nashville $37.33
23. Pittsburgh $36.61
24. Florida $34.31
25. Dallas $34.24
26. San Jose $33.00
27. DUCKS $30.32
28. Buffalo $29.73
29. Phoenix $27.37
30. Carolina $26.15

Penguins have seven suitors?

KDKA "Investigative" reporter Andy Sheehan has proven in the past that he doesn't do his homework.

In reference to possible suitors for the Penguines, Sheehan said said, "...unlike investors in Kansas City -- who would move the team", which is absolutely, unequivocally NOT true.

KC has no local ownership group looking to purchase an NHL team.

Now, Sheehan says up to seven groups are looking to purchase the Penguins.

Seven Potential Buyers To Bid On Penguins
From simple 'net research, I can find five groups. There may be two more, but Sheehan's track record says that he's probably off by at least two groups.

Again, here is who is interested in the Penguins and where the team may play as a result of each potential suitor.

-Toronto-based real estate developers David and Sam Fingold, who have publicly said they are interested in moving the team to KC.

-Hartford-based Larry Gottesdiener, who has publicly said he is interested in moving the team to Hartford.

-Ohio businessman Jim Renacci, a Pittsburgh native, is interested in buying the team and keeping them in Pittsburgh.

-RIM (you know, the Blackberry people) CEO Jim Balsillie may be one of the bidders, but has not publicly said so. He's been interested in an NHL team in the past and may try to move the team to Hamilton, Ont.

-Financier Andrew Murstein, who looked into purchasing the Kansas City Wizards.

Sheehan's artilce says that Murstein told him the team would stay in Pittsburgh regardless of the Pennsylvania Gaming Commission's slots parlor decision. So, does this article.
New bidder for Penguins emergesYet, the Toronto Star says Murstein is intersted in moving the team to HOUSTON if the Isle of Capri doesn't get the slots license. Of course, the Toronto Star is the paper that called the Sprint Center "recently completed."

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Whoa, Seattle voters say "Let the Sonics go"

A tax bailout? Let Sonics go, Seattleites say

According to a recent telephone survey conducted by an independent pollster, 78% of registered voters in Seattle are against using taxpayer money to subsidize improvements to Key Arena.

How would that make you feel if you were the Starbucks' CEO? Basically, your potential fanbase has said, "pay for it with revenues from those $4 lattes".

The Deputy Mayor did offer some perspective:

But Seattle Deputy Mayor Tim Ceis said the either/or question tilted the results.

"When you frame it that way, 'Do you want to pay taxes to build an arena or have them leave Seattle?' I think that's a pretty crude way," Ceis said. "That much ambiguity isn't going to elicit a very positive response no matter what."

But, seriously, how dumb does the Sonics' spokesperson think we are
Team spokeswoman Valerie O'Neil added that the survey question failed to fairly include the potential benefits of an arena overhaul beyond basketball.

"It's more than just a Sonics/Storm issue," she said. "It would be more than just the Sonics and (WNBA) Storm benefiting from the investment."

But, it's the Sonics that MOSTLY benefit from the investment and, it seems, Seattle's registered voters know it.

People across the country, from Orlando to Seattle, are catching on that these unbelievably wealthy men are fleecing taxpayers with these publicly funded mausoleums that have a shorter life span that a guy with a cholesterol level of 270.

Are the Predators building a case against Nashville?

The Predators and the city are in a dispute over bonus fees and new equipment for the Gaylord Entertainment Center ("GEC").
In dispute's latest turn, Predators demand $1M from Metro

I find this disagreement curious. Actually, on the surface, it seems extremely petty. However, this line in the story could be the most telling:

The Predators and the related company, Powers Management — which runs the GEC for Metro — said they were prepared to take action to enforce their demands, which they outlined in four letters delivered to city attorneys Monday. Under the Predators' contract with Metro, that could include terminating the agreement that has given Nashville pro hockey since 1998.

Terminating the agreement? That would mean the franchise would be free to find another arena in another city.

The Tennessean posted the PDF of the aforementione four letters the Predators lawyer sent to the lawyer for Metro (I guess Nashville calls their city government "Metro").
Letter from Predators lawyer to Metro's lawyer

Bottom line: Metro Government says the Predators are not meeting a Minimum Net Worth Agreement requirement. Predators say Metro Government is in default for payments to Powers Management and in default for improvements to the GEC.

Something about this situation smells bad. It seems as if the Predators are building a case against Metro so they can get out of their agreement at the GEC. And, it seems the Mayor wants to accomodate the Predators yet the Metro Government, through their lawyer, does not.

Sports fans, it doesn't matter if it is NBA or NHL, if we get another city's franchise it is going to be the result of an ugly dispute. Some city's sports fans are going to get screwed. The only way to avoid this is to get an expansion franchise, which isn't going to happen any time soon in either league.

It's time to watch this situation with the Predators very closely.

Take the Preds situation and relate it to KC in, let's say in 12 years, who is going to pay for a new scoreboard at Sprint Center? AEG or the city? It'd be nice if some enterprising journalist in KC asked those kind of questions...sorry, that may be asking for too much.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Pittsburgh's arena gamble

Prisuta: Arena gamble
Mike Prisuta of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review writes this column about the state lending money to the Pittsburgh-Alleghany County Sports & Exhibition Authority to begin purchasing land for a new arena.

Regardless, the Penguins' future is uncertain. Prisuta writes:

It's plausible new ownership could consider Rendell's "Plan B" proposal acceptable and keep the franchise here.

But it's also plausible the eventual new owners of the Penguins will decide a sweetheart deal in Kansas City, Las Vegas, Portland or Houston is preferable to $8.5 million up front and $4 million annually over 30 years.

Yes, but can we please throw Las Vegas off of these lists. Sam Fingold, who is actually trying to purchase an NHL team, says Las Vegas is not a viable NHL market. I'd take his word over some newspaper guy.

Here is the bottom line that everyone in Kansas City (media, hockey fans, those who have purchased Sprint Center suites) needs to realize.

Should Isle of Capri Casinos land the slots license, the Penguins are staying put, period. But Isle of Capri remains the only slots-license applicant that can guarantee the Penguins' long-term future in their current home. And for some reason, Rendell, mayor Bob O'Connor and Allegheny County chief executive Dan Onorato refuse to throw their public and private support behind the Penguins-Isle of Capri partnership.

It's a dangerous game they're playing.

We'll know a lot more in about 18 days. On July 1, the Penguins will be within one year of their current leases expiration date and they can begin discussions with other cities at that time.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Do we still want the NHL?

Today, Jeffrey Flanagan wrote this in his column.

Still want hockey?

Is hockey’s popularity falling even further, or is the league just suffering the effects of a bad decision to shift its cable rights to OLN?

Consider that only 610,836 households watched game one of the Stanley Cup finals last Monday. It got worse on Wednesday for game two when only 605,501 households tuned in.

Poker and paintball do better.

I love hockey, but do we still want it for the Sprint Center?

Jeff, Jeff, are a devout hockey fan and Kevin Constantine's friend, I expect so much more from you. I guess I can classify Flanagan with all the other Kansas City journalists that just don't get it. Hockey needs an advocate in this town. Someone with a positive spin. Who is it going to be?

Yes, OLN, soon to be Versus, ratings are bad.

But, this is a result of two things:
#1 -- OLN is hard to find and, on most cable systems, it is on the extended or digital tier rather than the basic tier.

Those of us who are sports fanatics don't think twice about purchasing the extended or digital tier, but we must realize that most people don't buy the extra tier. Overall viewership of the NHL is suffering because OLN is on so many fewer households.

#2 -- This is what you get when you have market parity. You get two small markets battling for the Stanley Cup which negatively effects ratings. Two small market teams battling for the World Series title will never happen under MLB's CBA. This year's Stanley Cup Final is good news for KC.

  • Gate receipts are germaine to the NHL's success, not television ratings. The new CBA, with the $39M cap, is built around this fact.

  • Attendance at NHL games was up in 2005-06 over 2003-04.

  • NHL teams drew an average of 91% of building capacity. (thank you, Bill Wirtz for throwing the average way off)

  • Total NHL revenue was 2.1B or 300M more than the 1.8B projections.

  • The salary cap will increase from $39M to $42M to $45M.

Do we still want NHL? Well, yeah. Personally, I think the AHL would be better, but of course we still want the excitement of the NHL.

Sprint Center Web site is up

The Sprint Center Web site is up.

Now, you can find out all you need to find out about our new arena and vote on whether you want an NHL or NBA team in KC. Like Chicago during the first Richard Daley era, vote early and vote often.

Of course, Rick Westhead of the Toronto Star thinks the Sprint Center is already complete. In a May 8 article he wrote,

But Kansas City has recently completed construction on the new 18,500-seat Sprint Center, a $276 million arena that needs a tenant like an NHL team to pay down its debt.

Ugh. This is why we have blogs.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Stern wants amateur basketball reformed

David Stern told the LA Times that young basketball players get exposed on their way up and would like amateuer basketball reformed.
Stern Says Amateur Game Needs Reform
To be more like HOCKEY perhaps.

Hockey has the Major Junior leagues that develop players between 16 and 20-years old with organized, well-run leagues. The Canadian Hockey Leagues offer scholarship money to these players with each year they play. If a kid playing for the, for instance, Everett Silvertips is not going to make it in the NHL, AHL, independent minor league teams or overseas, that player can use scholarship money from the Major Junior leagues to get an education and find a career outside of hockey.

With the Major Junior leagues, the NHL doesn't have to have the age limitations (which borders on racism) because 18-year old kids who are not ready for the NHL can play on a Canadian Hockey League team with other kids near his own age.

In the NBA, an 18-year old has to make the decision to go to college or ride the bench on an NBA team with 25, 30 and 35-year old men with whom they have nothing in common. It's a decision that is too difficult for a young man to make and an incredibly flawed system.

Why won't the NBA establish a REAL minor league and possibly a Major Junior basketball league where players could earn scholarship money? Because it would take money out of the hands of these AAU coaches and shoe companies.

It's sad, really. The NBA does a disservice to a majority of young players, where the NHL tries to nurture these players. Fewer NHL players get in legal/criminal trouble than NBA players. Perhaps it has nothing to do with race and more to do with how amateur basketball is set up.

Friday, June 09, 2006

It's not an's an EVENTS CENTER.

Oh, so now Orlando wants to replace TDWaterhouse Arena with an EVENTS CENTER rather than an arena.
Mayor changes message

This reminds me of a quote that former Royal Danny Jackson once made. Jackson wanted to open his business, Incred-A-Bowl , at 151st and Antioch in Overland Park. A local TV news reporter asked Danny, "What do you think of the neighbors' objections to a bowling alley going up their neighborhood?" to which Jackson curtly responded, "It's not a bowling alley...It's an ENTERTAINMENT CENTER."

Whatever, they call it in Orlando, they're still asking for approval of a tourist tax to foot the bill. The Magic asked for the same type of tax in 2001 and were pelted with rocks and garbage by taxpayers (ok, not really, but you get the idea). Opponents of the tax made bumper stickers and signs that said "NO-RENA". Calling it an Events center is smart because a NO-VENTS CENTER sign wouldn't work very well.

But Centroplex director Allen Johnson said profitable concerts are passing over Orlando in favor of newer venues in Tampa or Jacksonville. The Rolling Stones chose Tampa's St. Pete Times Forum last fall, and the Dixie Chicks will play there in October.

Sound familiar? We heard the same thing about Kemper Arena and that we were losing concerts and events to new arenas (oops, Events Centers) in Omaha, St. Louis and Des Moines. Same spin, different city.

I'm all for our arena and how it is funded. Kemper Arena was a poorly managed facility in a location that is not conducive to serendipitous businesses and revenue. I think Global Spectrum does a nice job of managing Kemper now (except for the ill-conceived notion that the UHL would work in KC). I had a great experience at Cirque Du Soleil early this year.

I simply find it interesting that the same sales campaign that worked in Kansas City is now being used in Orlando. I guess that's politics these days. It's kind of like Old Navy pushing track pants. Find a message that works and pound it into people's heads.

No mention of the Magic relocating, but you know that will come up if it looks like the "tourism tax for an Events Center" message doesn't work. The next message will be, "pass this tax or we're moving to Walt Disney's former home, KC."

Blazing a trail to the Pond

Trail Blazers Interest Ducks' Owner
The owner of the soon to be renamed Anaheim Mighty Ducks is interested in purchasing the Portland Trailblazers and moving them to the Arrowhead Pond.

There isn't much else to this short article other than the Arrowhead Pond President confirms that they are looking at purchasing the moribund NBA franchise.

This is bad news for those interested in bringing an NBA team to KC. We, Kansas City, don't have a local owner that is interested in purchasing a franchise and moving them here. We will have to get in line behind any city that does.

I think this also squashes any rumors of the Ducks moving to KC because their attendance isn't very good. BS. Henry Samueli is not going to sell the Ducks. He just bought them. And, he most certainly is not going to move the team out of the building he owns and operates.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Penguins will have new owners by next season

According to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review (again, how great would it be to have COMPETING newspapers in a city), the Pittsburgh Penguins will have new owners when they begin play next season.
Penguins to score new owners before next season

The paper says four to five groups are seriously considering buying the team, according to Steve Greenberg of Allen & Co., the company brokering the deal.

Of those four or five groups, only three have publicly stated their intentions.

-Toronto-based real estate developers David and Sam Fingold, who have publicly said they are interested in moving the team to KC if Isle of Capri/Penguins are not awarded the slots license.

-Hartford-based Larry Gottesdiener, who has publicly said he is interested in moving the team to Hartford if Isle of Capri/Penguins are not awarded the slots license.

-The paper says Ohio businessman Jim Renacci, a Pittsburgh native, is interested in buying the team. However, in another paper Renacci said he has not made an offer.

-I guarantee you RIM (you know, the Blackberry people) CEO Jim Balsillie is one of the bidders.

The bad news for KC

Elected officials in Pittsburgh plan to begin buying property to secure a site for an arena.

The state will lend the city-county Sports & Exhibition Authority $25 million to $30 million in coming weeks to start buying Uptown properties between Fifth and Centre avenues for an arena, Onorato said.

"We can increase our chances of keeping the team here if (the new owners) see there is movement on the new facility, and movement now," Onorato said.

The other bit of bad news is that NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman says, "no other teams are looking to relocate."

Bettman: It's about hockey, not the markets

Bettman said there are no plans to expand the NHL, nor does he anticipate any teams moving -- notwithstanding the Penguins' tenuous hold on life in Pittsburgh. Still, when someone suggested that the new CBA might make a return to other Canadian markets more viable, Bettman agreed. Sort of. "I do agree with your observation that the ability of, say, a Winnipeg, with the right building and ownership, to be able to not just survive but be competitive." Still, no one should be setting up the Jets season-ticket booth at Portage and Main. "I don't want to get anyone's hopes up because we're not planning on going anywhere," Bettman said.

So, when AEG, NHL21, Frank Boal and Neal Jones say, "up to six NHL teams are looking to move" there is no public evidence on which to base this statement. Which is precisely why I am asking members of the media to hold AEG's feet to the fire when they say these things.

Don't get me wrong, I think AEG is doing a great thing for KC, but OUR MEDIA needs to be a little more inquisitive...a little more...cynical, perhaps.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Whitlock says KC needs the NBA

Jason Whitlock's column from today says that KC needs the NBA.

Jason is basing this on watching some NBA playoff games. I have news for you Jason -- PLAYOFF GAMES ARE EXCITING IN EVERY SPORT.

Tonight's Game 1 of the Stanley Cup playoffs was a classic.

    -The rest of the NHL playoffs have been amazing.
    -I'm sure the MLS playoffs will be exciting this fall.
    -The last 10 NASCAR races are exciting.

The question is -- can KC fans stand a mid-season snoozefest between the KC NBA team and the Oklahoma City/New Orleans Hornets when they just shelled out $40 to go to KU-Oklahoma at Allen Fieldhouse the night before.

I don't think so and it seems the NBA doesn't think so either. They have shown no interest in KC.

    -No NBA21 group exists in KC
    -No NBA exhibition game has been here since Shaq played for LA and LeBron was in Junior High.
    -No potential owner has said they want to come here.

The NHL has had all three of these in the past nine months.

I think either an NBA or NHL team needs to go in the Sprint Center. Lately, I haven't seen the interest from the NBA.