When the Sprint Center in Kansas City was opened in October of 2007, the hope was that operator AEG would quickly bring a full-time tenant to occupy the building in the form of an NBA or NHL team, or both.
Almost four years after opening its doors, the Sprint Center is still without a main tenant and playing host to arena football, NCAA men's and women's postseason tournament games and a preseason NHL game every September. But at the moment, no rumored franchises potentially on the move have been strongly linked with Kansas City.
On Monday, a development in Los Angeles was announced that will have enormous repercussions in Kansas City.
It was announced that city officials and AEG, owners of the Los Angeles Kings and the Sprint Center, have come up with a financing plan for a new $275 million NFL stadium in downtown LA.
So how does this affect Kansas City's hopes of bringing an NHL team to town on a full-time basis?
According to Sam Mellinger of the Kansas City Star, it's not looking good as long as AEG is running things:
What's happening here now is what we were told would happen in Kansas City.
That dream — the one Kansas City bought into seven years ago in approving construction of the Sprint Center — is now all but dead, at least in part because AEG, the company that pushed it on us, has moved on to a bigger project.
Kansas City was the warm-up act for AEG, like calisthenics for what's happening in LA, roughly 1,600 miles from the Sprint Center but 100 yards from its worldwide headquarters.
Back at the Sprint Center, the chances of landing an NHL or NBA team have gone from Leiweke's purported lock to cautiously hopeful to dying to now mostly forgotten.
We are yesterday's news to the company that did everything but promise us a team.
If you still hold out any hope for a team coming to the Sprint Center, you should know the company that bragged about making it all happen for us is no longer motivated to work on our behalf.
It's telling that Leiweke is quoted constantly in the Los Angeles media but hasn't talked to anyone in Kansas City in quite some time. He didn't return multiple messages for this column.
Sprint Center has hosted NHL preseason games two of the past three years and ironically enough, this season's game will feature the Kings and the team that used Kansas City as leverage in getting their own new arena deal, the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Last December, the NBA took over the New Orleans Hornets and the possibility of moving the team to the Sprint Center arose, same with the Sacramento Kings until their owners pretty much ended all hope of that possibility and NBA commissioner David Stern said there wasn't an ownership group committed to putting a team in Kansas City.
Kansas City blogger Puck Chaser has seen through all of the marketing efforts trying to promote the city as a possible NHL destination and despite the efforts of Paul McGannon and his group, NHL 21, Sprint Center may only show up on the hockey calendar once a year every September when AEG brings the Kings in to play a preseason game. Cities such as Quebec and Seattle have moved to the top of the relocation list because they feature one thing that Kansas City doesn't seem to have at the moment: an interested ownership group.
Photo credit: Sprint Center