Sprint’s Dream An Anchor

The Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo., is to host an exhibition game between the New York Islanders and the Los Angeles Kings in September, which has brought up the question of when or if the NHL is coming to KC.

The Sprint Center opened October 2007 with promises of a National Hockey League team anchoring the facility. The promises go as far back as 2004, when AEG President Tim Leiweke told the city the NBA and the NHL had Kansas City at the top of the list for an expansion team or relocation of a current one.

AEG is facility operator and part owner of the Sprint Center.

Although the Sprint Center brings in its share of concerts, including nine Garth Brooks shows last year, and is expected to host first and second rounds of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, it still doesn’t have an anchor tenant apart from an Arena Football League team.

“Our dream is to have a team, somehow, some way,” Paul McGannon, head of a group trying to recruit a team to the city, told Newsday. “We have an $850-million development downtown and the Sprint Center needs an anchor tenant.”

AEG made it clear an NHL team would someday appear, the paper noted, but the city isn’t “drooling” for one, considering it’s home to the NFL’s Chiefs, baseball’s Royals and a powerful college basketball team.

“I think it’s very safe to say there has not been a groundswell of excitement in bringing a hockey team here yet,” Kansas City Star sports editor Holly Lawton told Newsday.

And the talk that filled the air from 2004 to 2008 has been tempered. Although the city would certainly take a team like the four-time Stanley Cup winning Islanders, its chances of getting a new team are slim.

“No one is talking about expanding anything other than bread lines,” Newsday noted.