Kansas City might be too good to have NBA, NHL franchise

23 03 2010

Kansas City is the ultimate leverage piece for any sports franchise negotiation. When Nashville and Pittsburgh were entangled in fierce battles with their city and state governments attempting to renew leases or build new arenas, Kansas City was the pawn used to achieve their goals.

Ownership groups never really intended to relocate their franchises to Kansas City, they just teased the sports fans and civic governments threatening to move to Kansas City if their demands were not met. The results; both Pittsburgh and Nashville hockey franchises brokered new deals and new venues out of the negotiations.

And Kansas City was left feeling insecure and dumbfounded. Again.

So why is Kansas City not a realistic option for these teams, but worthy of serving as a bargaining chip? The demand for an NBA or NHL franchise is significant enough to serve as a serious threat. But not enough to seal the deal. Why?

Kansas City is virtually in the center of the circle of the closest hockey teams: Chicago Blackhawks, Minnesota Wild, Colorado Rockies, St. Louis Blues and Dallas Stars. Sports fans have clamored for the return of NHL hockey to Kansas City since the KC Scouts (now known as the New Jersey Devils) left in the late 1970s. Since then, several lesser professional leagues have attempted to land teams in Kansas City, with limited success. Currently, the Missouri Mavericks (of the Central Hockey League) call Kansas City home.

The numerous failed attempts at hockey franchises does not help the city’s bids for attracting a major hockey franchise, but the desire and capabilities are there. And the Sprint Center is in serious need of a permanent resident. The multi-million dollar facility has been good leverage for professional teams, but has yet to take any permanent takers.

The Sprint Center would also serve as the perfect home for an NBA franchise, there is one major problem, Kansas is the home to one of the meccas of basketball, the University of Kansas. Kansas City doesn’t need professional basketball. Fans follow the Jayhawks, once coached by the father of basketball James Naismith, the Kansas State Wildcats (currently in the Sweet 16) and the Missouri Tigers. All three schools were in the NCAA tournament and won their opening round games.

The NBA has not been in Kansas City since the Cincinnati Royals made a three-year layover on their way West, eventually landing in Sacramento in 1975. The Kings changed their name from the Royals to the Kings because Kansas City already had a team called the Royals. Preseason exhibition games do not count.

People love their basketball in Kansas City, but there is only so much hoops love to go around. Regardless of the team – because no serious basketball franchises would consider relocating to Kansas City – it would never rank higher than second on the basketball depth chart (behind the Jayhawks). So there really is no incentive to move to Kansas City. The risk would be too great.

And since neither league is seriously considering expansion anytime soon because both leagues are debatably over-extended with too many teams, the likelihood of an NBA or NHL franchise moving to Kansas City are pretty much Zero.

And with the recent (lack of) success of both the Kansas City Chiefs and Royals, complete with nearly empty stadiums, there is not a lot the city can hang its hat on to promote itself as a prime candidate for another major sports franchise.

Mr Pressbox Out!!

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