The empty arena

Kansas City’s Sprint Center (that’s their new downtown arena) is suffering from underuse.

The Atlantic article The Empty Arena tells the story. Its subtitle is “If you build it, they might not come.” Despite being managed by a well-connected and experienced management group, no professional basketball or hockey team has moved in. Here’s bit more:

For now, Kansas City remains cautiously optimistic that the decision to build the Sprint Center was an enlightened one. The taxes that fund it are largely being paid by visitors, after all, and the concerts and NCAA games it has already attracted would have bypassed the old, outdated Kemper Arena. Mayor Mark Funkhouser, formerly the city auditor, had struggled to understand how spending $222 million on an arena made economic sense. “Now that I’ve inherited it,” he says, “I tell people it’s a shotgun wedding, but I have to make the marriage work. And if you look at it just in terms of the performance of the facility itself, it has exceeded expectations. It’s shiny and new. People like it.”

Who paid for the arena? As the snippit above approvingly states, someone else besides the people of Kansas City did. $222 million from hotel and car-rental taxes funded the arena.

In Wichita, the Intrust Bank Arena (formerly known as the downtown Wichita arena), set to open next year, was paid for largely by its own hometown, as it was funded through a sales tax.

The Wichita arena, unlike Kansas City’s, has a tenant, a minor league hockey team. Even though the arena is owned by the citizens of Sedgwick County, details are kept secret from the people.

2 Comments

  • The banker arena will br “cool”{ and “the place to br” for a few months. I still see that there is no parking. I voted NO for thid crap but everyine seems to think we will get gread bads here…NO sorry. THe want to be in and out of this cuty. Have fundown there. I know the bums will.

  • If it doesn’t work in Kansas City, will a new downtown arena work in Wichita? I can’t see why it will. The Wichita area population and market is much smaller than KC. The Wichita market is off the beaten path when compared with a large regional market like KC.

    The economy next January in Wichita is likely to be worse than the current KC market too. This is not a good sign for Sedgwick County.

    Has anyone contacted the leading advocates for the downtown arena like George Fahnestock, Robert Hanson, ex Mayor Mayans and former county commissioner Tom Winters for their comments?

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