Wednesday, September 06, 2006

KC Pitch says "We're Pucked"

We're Pucked
Seven big-league hockey and basketball teams have rejected Kansas City. When the Sprint Center opens, will anyone love us?

Really an interesting read in the KC Pitch this week. Now, I'm not a great fan of the Pitch, anymore.

When I was a younger, single man I read the Pitch every week. I had to find the drink specials and know which bands were playing where. I became a huge fan of Uncle Tupelo/Son Volt/Wilco/Jay Farrar after reading a small story in the Pitch probably 15 years ago. Now that I'm older, I spend my weekend nights listening to the Wiggles rather than Steve, Bob and Rich.

I must say, I'm impressed with the storytelling. By reading the story, one can tell that Justin Kendall did far more research than anyone at the Star has done.

The story is a bit pessimistic, but, c'mon, this is Journalism. Without a slightly cynical view, the right questions don't get asked (hint, hint).

The reality may seem clear. But like victims of unrequited love, city leaders and AEG officials have stubbornly refused to admit that they're growing desperate.


I think it's very telling that AEG has not mentioned an anchor tenant for October 2007 in quite some time. Next thing you'll hear Michael Roth say is "We never promised an NBA or NHL tenant for the arena's opening. We're talking to some franchises about relocating in 2008 and beyond."

However, the Walt Disney Company sold the Ducks in 2005 to an owner who decided to keep the team in California.


Not only that, but they sold it to an Orange County native, who is now pursuing an NBA team (he already has an NBDL team playing in the same arena as the Ducks) and may be competition for KC's bid for an NBA team. The Ducks are in Anaheim to stay for a long, long time.

If that doesn't work, Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell has devised a plan to pay for the arena with bonds that could be paid off by the Penguins in modest annual installments.


Remember, the Governor's "Plan B" DOES NOT call for the team to fund half the arena, as the Star erroneously reported. Plan B calls for the team to pay $2.9M per year for 30 years plus give up naming rights, which is worth another $1.2M per year.

Last week, Fingold's deal to buy the Penguins appeared to be falling through, according to several media reports in Pittsburgh. The Star buried the news in a 415-word article on page nine of the sports section.


Ok, that is probably an unprovoked shot. The Star simply doesn't have the column space to do much more than 400-word stories. However, they can at least get them right.

Kevin Gray, president of the Kansas City Sports Commission and Foundation, talks of the "golden opportunity" Kansas City has to land the Penguins. "We definitely respect the fact that the league wants to stay in Pittsburgh," Gray tells the Pitch. "But our belief is that right now, if the league wants to be successful and solidify a market, you can do that here right now."


Wow. What an incredibly arrogant thing to say. Pittsburgh supports the Penguins for 40 years and two Stanley Cups and Kevin Gray says moving to KC would "solidify a market". Please.

Neil deMause, co-author of the widely cited Field of Schemes: How the Great Stadium Swindle Turns Public Money Into Private Profit, wonders what the benefit would be to the city. "You've got a team, but you're not making any revenue off of your arena," deMause says. "You've just filled up 40 dates, and you're not getting anything from it." He says Kansas City and Oklahoma City could end up being "the cities that everybody loves to play footsie with."


An obvious omission is any mention of NHL21 and Paul McGannon. I guess McGannon's constant positive spin couldn't advance the story. Perhaps a warranted omission.

I guess there is value in our local daily newspaper being a glorified cheerleader (rah, rah for ol' KC). It makes people feel warm and fuzzy like the pretty colors the Star now has.

But, I put a lot more stock in Journalism that tells a story and informs it's readers.

Justin Kendall and the Pitch have done a nice job with this one. It accurately informs sports fans and readers about how difficult it is to attract an NBA or NHL team, regardless of whether AEG is an 800-pound gorilla. As I have said in this blog before, the recent NHL moves were prompted by the NHL wanting to get away from former WHA markets. Only the former Minnesota North Stars up and left a true, established NHL market in the last 25 years (and KC's potential fan base isn't even close to that of Dallas in the 90s).

I hope it sparks discussion among sports fans and, maybe more importantly, voters in KC.

5 Comments:

At 7:33 AM, Anonymous UpperDeckJoe said...

I agree with your assessment of the Pitch's article. I did find something interesting in it that does leave some hope for us hockey fans. It does appear that AEG has been at least hinting to the Kansas City Sports Commission that the city, "needs to consider a pro women's basketball team or a minor-league hockey team." If it were not for the fact that AEG already owns an AHL franchise, I really think that this would be a done deal. That would go nicely with your constant, yet very accurate assessment that arena revenues are a key to whether any franchise would locate at the Sprint Center. There is also the question of local ownership, which has never, ever, been within the realm of possibilities here in KC. I also think that the city is not too keen on the idea of having a $275 million facility with a minor-league team (or a WNBA or an AFL franchise) as its anchor tenant.

I still carry hope that KC will have some form of quality hockey in the Sprint Center. My personal preference would be the AHL. Sure, you don't need 17,000 seats for an AHL team, but as the BLADES did show for at least a couple of seasons, if you put a quality product on the ice, at least 8 to 9K will be there on a regular basis.

 
At 9:21 AM, Blogger KCHockeyBuzz said...

Amen, Joe.

And, we can get an AHL team in Sprint Center for the October 2007 opening.

Two AHL franchises are still dormant and looking for a home.

 
At 10:05 AM, Blogger Max said...

upperdeckjoe raises a great point though - who has the deep pockets to bring a franchise here? I'm guessing that if we ever do land an NBA or NHL franchise, we're stuck with an out-of-town owner who will milk KC for all its worth until the Sprint Center is no longer state-of-the-art (say 2016-2020), then moves the team again to greener pastures.

We need another Ewing Kauffman.

 
At 7:04 PM, Anonymous Mike Jacobi said...

what about the guys from Cerner who're reported to be putting up money for a soccer specific stadium for the Wizards?(i'm in chicago and stay abreast of sports news back home in KC as best as i can with the limited info i get via kansascity.com). Or what about George Brett? wasn't he rumored to be interested in owning the Blades at one point before DeVos bought and subsequently folded the team? Surely there's someone or a group in KC that can put up the money for one of the dormant AHL clubs. If Omaha, Des Moines, and Peoria can support the AHL, why not KC?

 
At 2:14 PM, Blogger Max said...

I don't think the Cerner guys or Brett has the $150-250 million needed to purchase an NBA or NHL franchise, nor do I think they have much interest.

As for minor league hockey - perhaps. Brett and his brother do or did own a minor league hockey team in Spokane at one time. Anyone know what a minor league hockey team costs?

 

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