Sunday, December 12, 2004

X-Mas X-odus from Kemper

People located in the West Bottoms are whispering about the growing likelihood of an Overland Park Arena. It's moving fairly quickly, and could be the final nail for Kemper Arena. Overland Park is in a race with Olathe to be the first Johnson County city with a facility. Whoever gets off the ground first will win the race and loser will shelf their plans.

The Knights, the Comets and a yet to be named hockey team (not the Outlaws, but a NEW minor league team) would ALL call the arena home by 2006 or 2007.Outlaws' games are drawing crowds under 1,000 for some home dates (despite the bloated figures being printed in the media).

The pending home schedule for the Knights does not look much better. Local sports television station '38 the Spot' brought on Jeff Boschee and Jeff Graves, two of the team's newest players. The entire segment was dedicated not to the Knights, but to their alma mater.At Hale Arena this year, the Knights have brought in Gates BBQ to cook up food on site. The relationship with Gates will not only keep fans fed, but also help generate a smell that they hope will cover the manure stench that occupies Hale Arena.

The downtown "Sprint" Arena is looking more and more like a crock everyday. The two hopeful tenants, the NHL and the NBA, are looking to be less and less attractive by the minute. The NHL remains consumed in a labor dispute, and the NBA is in a serious (yet unpublicized) attendance slump.The people that sold us on the downtown arena apparently have a short memory when it comes to these two leagues. Yes, both the NBA and NHL were here at one time. And yes, both left because of insufficient gate receipts. Yet, they told us they would be willing to come back. The NBA has enough problems with bringing fans to the games. They will not open a new can of worms in Kansas City.

Their franchises in Charlotte and New Orleans (both bigger markets than Kansas City) have attendances that have the league whispering about contraction. The league (currently consisting of 30 teams), was once thought to expanded into Mexico and elsewhere overseas. Toronto, the last of the two Canadian experiments will fold if and when Vince Carter is dealt, as attendances at Raptors games are also plummeting.

What will the new arena house if the NBA and NHL don't come to play and the Kemper tenants head for Overland Park? What will all of those taxes paid for? An empty building and someone's political gain…..

All human beings should try to learn before they die what they are running from, and to, and why. — James Thurber


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