Thursday, June 04, 2009

Nobody's home

Via Arrowhead Pride I came across this article in The Atlantic on KC's (mostly empty) Sprint Center. I've attended games at the last two iterations of whatever early-season college basketball tournament they have there (CBE Classic something or rather...) and got to see Michigan State, Maryland, UCLA, KU, Washington, Syracuse, Missouri, and, uh, Florida, I think so they usually have a pretty good field. The arena was close to being sold out but they had to discount a lot of tickets this year which was a little odd considering KU was playing but they had overpriced their market, I think. We were way, way up in the nosebleeds and could have had a pretty significant upgrade if we had just waited until the week before to buy. I guess I'll know that for next year which is probably not the lesson they wanted people to take from that.

So, those events were pretty cool because I got to see some teams that ordinarily I would never have the chance to see in person and the arena is absolutely beautiful. We were 8 miles from the games but still seemed to have a pretty good view of everything from up there. The outside looks great, they have a bar in the arena, hell they even have a QuikTrip in there. The only problem is there's no one to play there. They actually hung a banner bragging that they opened with 8 straight nights of sold out Garth Brooks concerts. How embarrassing is that?

The city kicked in $222 million worth of tax money to build this thing and people were reassured that with AEG operating the place it was only a matter of time before an NHL or NBA team is back in KC. Since then the usual pattern has been NBA/NHL team allows it to leak that they're interested in KC, city of said franchise freaks out and throws tax money at a new arena, team stays, Sprint Center sits empty.

Even worse is that the city spent a ton of tax money and gave out cheap loans for an out-of-town developer to create the Power and Light District across the street from the arena. On the one hand this is good because people are going downtown again to eat and drink and the many restaurants and bars there while on the other hand once you look past the shiny lights you realize it's another soulless corporate enterprise that represents nothing unique about KC.

The perfect example is the BBQ places down there. In my opinion there's absolutely nothing better than KC BBQ. Doesn't matter if it's Arthur Bryant's, Gate's, Oklahoma Joe's, or any of the other amazing places but does P&L have any of them? Hell no, they have Famous Dave's. Personally I think they have good stuff but they can't match up with any of the three I mentioned and they sure as hell aren't representative of KC.

I could go on but basically the entire P&L District is the Sips of KC except more racist and subsidized by the city of KC. My major point is that I, personally, would love an NBA or NHL team in KC but I think it's kind of messed up that they'll spend that kind of money chasing a team when their school system is so bad that anyone that can afford to get out of it does exactly that. Something seems odd when they're willing to chase any sports or development dream that any out-of-towner sells them but they can't manage anything else. Maybe a team would be beneficial to the city and maybe it would fail like the ones in the past and maybe this arena will continue to host circuses and Garth Brooks but it would be nice if it seemed like these people actually had a clue about what they were getting into.


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