Friday, August 3, 2007

If you build it, they won't necessarily come

I sure hope the newly constructed Sprint Center wasn't a big waste of money.

Kansas City has built a state of the art, downtown stadium with hopes of attracting either a NHL team or a NBA team. I think a NHL team is more likely, given the popularity of college basketball around here. I just don't think the NBA can compete with the KU-Mizzou-K-State entertainment. So, the NHL is more likely, especially with a couple of unstable franchises fishing for a new place to call home.

The NHL in KC concerns me. I think it could very well flop and be an embarrassment to our city. It has to be granted, Hockey is something you have to grow up watching, playing, and liking in order to be in to it. The other "major" sports aren't really like that. Despite the Sprint Center looking like a shiny hockey puck, I don't see the NHL doing well here. It's very likely the brand new stadium could go with out a major professional sports tenant for a while. I'm doubting the Trans-Siberian Orchestra's yearly visit, some monster trucks, Ice skating, and a few WWE events will cover the facilities costs. This could be ugly. Very ugly.
Anyways, in order for my faithful and intelligent readership to understand what a hockey town truly is, consider this article about my home city of Buffalo, NY:

Best NHL city: Buffalo

August 2, 2007

Here's how good the hockey fans are in Buffalo: While TV ratings in the rest of the U.S. pushed to reach numbers posted by drunken drivers, the citizens of this mid-market media area were watching the Stanley Cup finals at five times the national rating. And the Sabres weren't even in the finals.


Such is the passion for pucks in greater Buffalo. These fans even surpassed the Game 5 rating in the L.A. market, where the Ducks were winning the Cup.

There's no Disney Land in Buffalo; Niagara, Ontario, is nice but you can only see Ripley's so many time. There's no surf in Buffalo; the closest thing is where the Niagara River goes downhill real fast. Goat Island will never be confused with Long Beach.

So, OK, there aren't the distractions in Buffalo there are in Anaheim, where the Cup landed. Other than hockey, the only thing these cities have in common is James Cameron. The Titanic man is from an Ontario burg on the north shore of the Niagara. And although both cities have hockey, Buffalo's passion for it is unsurpassed. Anywhere.


America's Best Sports City, NHL category, even loves its team when it loses. Example: Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals, won by the Senators to eliminate the Sabres, drew a 28.4 rating for NBC. And games 1-4, all on Versus, drew ratings between 21.9 and 27.6.
Now chew on this: NBC's three games in the finals had a rating of ... 1.6. Repeat: 1.6.
Anomaly? Not considering Buffalo's rating for the All-Star Game was 7.1, while the next-best market number was Pittsburgh's 2.8.

If the NHL posted numbers one-tenth as good across the U.S. as it does in Buffalo it would be giddy. Gary Bettman would Riverdance from Erie to Ontario.

And these folks aren't staying home, either. Every Sabres home game last season was a sellout. That's 18,690 for 41 nights at HSBC Center. And of course, with Cup hopes sky-high, every playoff game was a sellout, too.

There was such demand for the playoffs, Time Warner Cable added Versus HD to its lineup.
'Nuff said. Buffalo, you rule.


Sorry KC fans, we should have stayed with the Royals and Chiefs, this stadium might well end up being a flop.

13 comments:

Jeremy Morgan said...

KC is most definitely NOT a hockey town. You're right. How could it have failed with all the central planners and bureaucrats being so involved? That Elton John concert is gonna pack 'em in though, right?

Frontier Forest said...

Sure hope you are wrong! We need some good news here not another busted-boon-doggel. The lumber business is bad, real bad and no signs of rejuvenation in the housing market until 2nd quarter of 2009. Maybe I could become a glass cleaner for the new Sprint Center? “Trusting Jesus, with ALL MY HEART,” has taken me from faith words to faith living!

AJF said...

oh man...I forgot about the inaugural concert being none other than "Sir" Elton John.

This keeps getting worse.

Frontier Forest said...

Yes, and my wife will make me be on the phone at 12:01 a.m. Monday morning, trying to get tickets for this concert. Maybe I can witness?

Frontier Forest said...

Great News! After responding to Tony’s blog again, the stress of getting tickets to a concert I don’t want to attend, was beginning to overwhelm me. So I thought I would get a head start and called “Ticket Solutions”. After recovering from “ticket-shock” I phoned my dear wife, informing her that nose bleed tickets are $125, floor tickets start at $215 up to $625, she quickly discerned that Sir Elton tickets weren‘t necessary.
Sure tell I'm board.

jeremy morgan said...

I wonder if there were any politics involved in Sir Elton being chosen. Sprint is consistently ranked among the most GLBT friendly workplaces. I wonder if they had any input into who opens the center. You can't imagine the pride I feel.

Rick Calohan said...

Tony,

The fact that Kansas City still has the Royals is a miracle in itself. I grew up here and remember when we had the NHL, Kansas City Scouts a.k.a. (Colorado Rockies, New Jersey Devils) and the NBA, Kansas City-Omaha Kings (a.k.a. Sacramento Kings) and we had just finished the Johnson County Truman Sports Complex and KCI, Kansas City was update in the 1970s we even had the GOP convention in 1976 at Kemper Arena. Shortly after Mayor Charles B. Wheeler left along too the civic pride left. Part of the problem was school busing in the Kansas City Public Schools, who if memory serves me correctly have not passed a levy since 1970. The Scouts were gone in two years and we were subjected to CHL first the Blues then the Red Wings had farm clubs here. Later the Kansas City Blades and indoor soccer with the Kansas City Comets would fill Kemper and the reason because they were winning.

There was a time before Carl Peterson that on any given Sunday you could go to Arrowhead and by a ticket to a Chiefs game and find easy parking. There was a time a Royals ticket was hard to come by unless you had connections or would be willing to wait in line for General Admission seats. Unless that franchise is a winner, they will not fill the seats at the Sprint Center.

Kansas City fans are not like Cubs fans, Cardinals fans, or other sports fans that wait long in the wilderness, we want our manna now hot and fresh, because we are fair weather fans here in KC. Therefore, in order for the Sprint Center to pay off, we should have gotten the Penguins but we may be stuck with the Predators

I was hoping the other Sir from across the pond would come as in McCartney. I hope that the Sprint Center will pay off but I know that after 5 years they will say it is outdated and we need something new again. The only reason we have Kemper is because the Crosby family (UMB Bank) donated the land provided the name the Arena after them. I like Kemper, Kauffman, and Arrowhead, but the nature of the beast is revenue so that all the private venues are maximum capacity out, and as Americans get wider, we need more elbow room to get our foodstuffs and adult beverages. The sad thing is that after Yankee Stadium is decommissioned it will leave Wrigley, Fenway, and Dodgers stadium as the oldest venues left. I guess that is progress!

William said...

I agree that Kansas City is NOT a hockey town (currently). However, the NHL does have a fairly good collective bargaining agreement in terms of the salary cap. This is not something to minimize because it does keep costs down to a degree. This cost consciousness could allow Kansas City to "keep its head above (frozen) water" for awhile. There appears to be a "halo effect" for the first two or three years of a new arena/stadium that keeps it full due to the novelty of a new facility, curiousity about the "new product" and a significant amount of season ticket and corporate ticket sales. It then becomes the responsibility of the franchise to both market their product and put a quality product on the ice. That is the only hope for the NHL to survive here. Fans need to understand the game. The first clue that they don't is when they make fighting their first point of reference with the sport. I believe in having an enforcer on the ice (go Bob Probert), but hockey fans know that hockey is more about grace and timing. A breakaway where the puck handler fakes out the goalie by going left and shooting right, is poetry. As far as the product on the ice is concerned, Kansas City is known for supporting winners. We are NOT Chicago, where the Cubs are "lovable losers" and still sell-out a ton of games. That won't happen with hockey. The NHL would have an opportunity for a "marketing bonanza" here in Kansas City, if they would simply take advantage of it. There are still a lot of "blue collar" workers in Kansas City and hockey is often associated with blue collared workers (although this is probably a fallacy in today's hockey environment because a working man would have trouble paying $75 for a good seat!). With careful (and clever) marketing and a quality product on the ice (not to mention an All-Star Game within five years), hockey could make a go of it. My glass is half-full (of frozen water). One last thought. . . clever marketing, cool team colors and an interesting logo gained San Jose a lot of revenue in their early years. People all over the United States were wearing "Sharks" gear who were far from hockey fans. That could help us as well . . . a cool logo, interesting colors and Snoop Doggy Dog wearing our jersey in his next video (which I hope none of us will see). Fer-shizz-el. Go Bruins!

AJF said...

Very insightful comments...confirms some of my "fears" about the new Sprint Center though.

Come on now William! The days of "goon hockey" are past. Yes, teams still need enforcers, but it's not like the old Probert, Kocur, Domi days.

Qayaq said...

I feel for you coming from a town that is so NHL oriented to a city that does not care. The lakes don't even freeze here so unless you want to go to King Louie, you are out of luck.
We had a soccer team that one the championship and no one even noticed or cared. I don't think the Sprint Center is going to generate the interest that is hoped for and will probable loose money, just like Union Station. I am not sure what is keeping the Royals from leaving due to lack of interest. This is ultmately a Chiefs and college basketball town. People paint parts of their houses, cars and even bodies to reflect their love for their respective teams.

Frontier Forest said...

Not to lead others astray! My dear brother, Steve Baker informed me that going through "Ticket Solutions" was not wise, since they were marking them up from "Ticket Masters."
So against my better judgments, today at exactly 10:00 a.m. I pleased my wife by coming up with tickets, at very reasonable prices from "Ticket Masters." Got floor seats for $87.

AJF said...

Pleae tell me you're joking?

Frontier Forest said...

like I said Tony, maybe I can witness to Sir John? Pretty lame huh?