Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Lamar Hunt Close to Bringing USHL to Overland Park

About a year ago, the Kansas City Star's Sam Mellinger wrote some tripe about hockey in Kansas City to cover their yearly quota.  And that's fine, because it's not like they write this same article all the time.  "Kansas City loves hockey" but "Kansas City can't support an NHL team" and it doesn't matter anyway because "the Sprint Center is one of the busiest arenas in the world."  There is some #original #content.  You're lucky I didn't put that behind a pay wall, and act like blogs aren't dying the same slow death as online newspapers.

Anyway, here's another annual hockey article, which is different this year because Vahe Gregorian wrote it.  You will note this is important because we are led to believe he gets paid more than Sam Mellinger or Yael T. Abouhalkah.  The title of this blog post actually should read "KC Star Copy/Pastes last year's article," but there is some newsworthy stuff in here.  But, if this article is too much for you to handle, I made a word cloud of it (above).  You can rest assured it hits all of the high points.

Hockey interest in KC heating up, but odds of getting NHL team are still long

Read more here: http://www.kansascity.com/sports/spt-columns-blogs/vahe-gregorian/article77997827.html#storylink=cpy

When the Chicago Blackhawks and St. Louis Blues clashed in Game 7 of the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs a few weeks ago, it created a certain critical mass for Steve Stegall, owner of The Blue Line hockey bar in the River Market.
While “my Blues and Blackhawks fans aren’t really happy with each other,” he said, what he estimated was a thousand of them amiably enough shared space that included spilling into the streets.When police came to gently restore order, Stegall said he “pushed everybody back up so they were like sardines on the sidewalk.”
The Sprint Center has lured a number of NHL exhibition games, with the Blues and Washington Capitals to meet this fall. And the Stanley Cup playoffs typically draw good TV ratings in this market.
The only people standing out in the streets at Blue Line are the occasional smokers, the meeting of buzzed amateur philosophers, and the people from the vape shop next door. 
“Hockey in Kansas City,” Chaz Rothenberg, wearing a Buffalo Sabres hat, said smiling as he walked out of the bar Sunday night.  That’s not the only example of the game’s apparent growth and visibility here in recent years.
For those of us unaware that Kansas City existed prior to the construction of the Sprint Center, know that there was a fairly successful minor league team called the Blades that played at Kemper Arena for a decade during the '90s, and numerous NHL exhibition games played there as well.  But, apparently, the sport has just hit it's renaissance in this city with the Mavericks.  These are the same people that will cite the Kings-Penguins exhibition sell out in 2011 (17,544 tickets sold) and the Kings-Islanders bible study (9,792) in the same sentence and say that hockey is coming alive again!  That said, 9,000+ for two teams on opposite coasts featuring a bunch of minor leaguers on, like, a Tuesday night when Zack Greinke was pitching was nothing short of a miracle (I remember that night fondly).
Hunt Jr. is intensifying his investment with plans to bring a top-level amateur team to Overland Park at the proposed 6,000-seat sports arena in the BluHawk development.“This will complete the picture that we started when we bought the Mavericks,” Hunt Jr., who also has worked to galvanize regional youth hockey, said last week. “We wanted the affiliation with an NHL team. We wanted to make the playoffs with the Mavericks. We wanted to unify youth hockey in Kansas City. And now this is the top level of junior hockey in the United States.“It fits very well along the growth path of hockey in Kansas City.” 
This is the one good thing to come out of this article, and really the only item the Star should have published.  This is actual news, though the KC Business Journal has reported this for a while now.  You have to connect the dots to find Hunt teaming up with Price Brothers – the developer of the BluHawk development in Overland Park, but it seems like they will have an arena with a USHL occupant by 2018.  Which, thumbs up to you guys!

Hunt, despite his shortcomings, does appear to care about hockey in the city.  Now, so far, the "city" means the arena in Independence and a plot of land in Overland Park, but Hunt shouldn't grow the sport by himself and won't have to grow the sport by himself.  Once it begins to grow at a youth level,  the need for sheets of ice will influence others to get in on the boom, as well.  Think about soccer in this city.  Though Sporting has done a lot for soccer in the city, they aren't the only game in town when it comes to building fields and complexes.
Such as it is.
Que sera sera?
Forty years since the NHL’s Scouts left for Colorado (and later New Jersey) after two slapstick seasons, and nearly 10 years since the Sprint Center opened, nothing on the horizon suggests the realization of the NHL or NBA anchor tenant touted by AEG when it sold the project.  The Sprint Center is among the busiest arenas in the nation, and no doubt has been a major factor in the rejuvenation of downtown Kansas City.
Sprint Center in May 2016
Sprint Center in June 2016
 I would hate to see it when it wasn't busy.
This is all very good, because it’s just not going to be weaving in a new resident soon...And it safely can be surmised that the NHL has little thought about returning to this market in the near future despite whatever polite contact it maintains with local interests.The landscape for that might even be seen as barren, per a Business Journals’ 2015 report that rated Kansas City a zero on a scale up to 100 in a ranking of potential NHL markets.

Moreover, the NHL likely is focused on gaudier new targets — such as Las Vegas, which has secured more than 10,000 ticket deposits for a prospective expansion team. Seattle and Quebec City also are considered intriguing possibilities if the NHL opts to proceeds with expansion.
Good research, Vahe.  Seattle has nothing to offer; possibly not even an arena.  And Bettman seems sour on the deal – though he's lied before – but possibly definitely for certain this time because they didn't give in to his demands.  Las Vegas and Quebec City are the only two cities to put in bids.  The league is "considering" these bids, but totally doesn't want a team in Quebec City because of the Canadian dollarandblahblahblah did we mention it's Quebec City?  Those bids will sit there for a while.
As for Kansas City, when expansion applications were extended last summer, Hunt called the NHL’s $500 million price tag for a franchise “ridiculously big” and said it wasn’t on his radar.  The same seemingly can be said of whether there is any local oomph to try to secure a restless franchise, a route that has failed a few times already.
Remember why it fails: Sly James would rather have established organizations that have been around since 1967 like the Pittsburgh Penguins, than established organizations that have been around since 1972 like the Arizona Coyotes.
Meanwhile, the Sprint Center itself is precluded from seeking ownership, reminded Brenda Tinnen, the building’s general manager and AEG senior vice-president, because Phil Anschutz (as in Anschutz Entertainment Group) is the owner of the Los Angeles Kings.  Facing the question of applying for expansion generated conversations at a “very high level,” she said, about whether there was anyone “interested at that time in (being the financial backer of) an expansion team for Kansas City.”  “And just unfortunately,” she added, “there was no one with the wherewithal and the financial backing to (respond to) that request.”   Then there is this:While Tinnen says she stays in touch with the NHL and pursues what she called “due diligence,” an email from Sprint Center spokesperson Shani Tate-Ross outlines a management agreement stating that since 2012 “the city of KCMO has primary responsibility for pursuing an anchor tenant at Sprint Center.”  Or, as Tinnen put it: At this stage per the contract, it’s up to the city to “do everything it could to attract the anchor tenant if (the city) were interested or had an owner.”
Holy crap, more newsworthy stuff!  And that's totally surprising, too.  It's up to the city, THIS city, to do something.  That said, it's basically up to the "city" – city council, mayor, chief of police...? – to say "uh, yeah, anyone want to own a hockey team here?"  That's fantastic.  The same entity – possibly, who knows – that says the Arizona Coyotes are damaged goods is supposed to want a team too.  I don't know how to properly respond to this.  Is that good?  Bad?  Hilarious?  Does it even matter?  Well, no, no it does not matter, because, you see, Kansas City likes hockey, but, used to have a team (in the 1970s but that's not important) but can't support one now, and anyway the Sprint Center is the most populated arena on the third weekend of every other month in world.  Now do you see why it's pandering to write articles like this?  It doesn't have to be about hockey.  It could be about the downtown resurgence, and how Sprint Center plays a part in bringing millennials downtown to live, work, and play.  Or it could be about the NBA.  Or Power and Light District and KC Live.  "The NHL won't work for various reasons, BUT the Sprint Center sure has been a success!"  Got it.  Thanks.  
The city would seem to have many more important things to do just now, so it might be assumed that this is where we are:  “I’m a dreamer,” said Paul McGannon, who formed NHL21 as a grassroots organization to try to lure hockey back to Kansas City.
Paul McGannon says some other stuff, but I'll leave it at that.  True, he is now nothing more than a "dreamer," someone who talks about hockey but understands exactly the same stuff as anyone else who has wanted a team in the city for twenty years and has seen this same freaking story written every year from the same freaking news outlet.  It's not McGannon's fault – he has nothing left to say because the sole purpose of NHL21 was to "lure" a franchise (somehow          ¯\_(ツ)_/¯   ) and it did not happen, as if NHL21 were some dude swiping right on a cute rich girl on franchise ownership Tinder.  He tried, nothing came from it, and now he's nothing more than a observer, a fan.  Just like you, and me, and Chazzy McSabreshat mentioned earlier.  They should interview one of us.  Or maybe just let McGannon write this damn article next year so they don't have to inconvenience him and the rest of us.
There are complicated different aspects to each of those — season tickets, corporate sponsorships and a local cable television deal — but Hunt Jr.’s reservations can be well summed up this way:“I don’t think Kansas City can fill those buckets up,” he said. “You would need $100 million in revenue to … have a legitimate hockey team business in Kansas City. …
“I think it is an unrealistic reach at this point.”
Whether “at this point” is a key term or not remains to be seen.

Who knows?  Maybe you!

Such as it is, Kansas City hockey fan.  Such as it is.

Read more here: http://www.kansascity.com/sports/spt-columns-blogs/vahe-gregorian/article77997827.html#storylink=cp

Read more here: http://www.kansascity.com/sports/spt-columns-blogs/vahe-gregorian/article77997827.html#storylink=cpy

Read more here: http://www.kansascity.com/sports/spt-columns-blogs/vahe-gregorian/article77997827.html#storylink=cpy

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