INDEPENDENCE, Mo. — Looming in a burghal parking lot aloof off Interstate 70, some 16 afar east of the gleaming, 10-year-old Sprint Center in Kansas City, is the Silverstein Eye Centers Arena, which serves, for now, as the area’s mecca for able ice hockey.
The Sprint Center, with a basement accommodation for hockey of 17,500, is appointed to comedy host on Sept. 28 to an NHL preseason d amid the St. Louis Blues and Minnesota Wild. Afterwards that, breadth hockey admirers will accept to get their fix at Silverstein Eye Centers Amphitheatre with a accommodation of 5,800.
The amphitheatre is home to the 8-year-old Kansas Burghal (formerly Missouri) Mavericks of the ECHL, which is two levels bottomward from the NHL. The aggregation averaged 5,068 admirers aftermost season, 89 percent of accommodation and seventh in the 27-team ECHL, and has acquired a branch in the city’s sports landscape. It will become an associate of the NHL’s Calgary Flames and AHL’s Stockton Heat alpha with the 2017-18 season, advancing off a two-year acceding with the New York Islanders.
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For two seasons in the 1970s, Kansas Burghal had an NHL team, the amplification Scouts. Sprint Center would assume to be an adorable breadth for addition NHL team, abnormally because the NHL could use a 16th Western Conference aggregation afterwards abacus the Vegas Golden Knights this year. But so far, Kansas Burghal has been larboard behind.
Mavericks buyer Lamar Hunt Jr. is the 60-year-old son of Lamar Hunt — the backward and allegorical architect of the American Football League, coiner of the byword “Super Bowl” and buyer of the Kansas Burghal Chiefs — and would adulation to see the NHL acknowledgment to town.
Lamar Hunt Jr. can still anamnesis seeing his aboriginal NHL game. He and accompany from the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music collection to Philadelphia in 1976 to, amid added things, watch the Philadelphia Flyers. He remembers seeing Flyers captain Bobby Clarke win a fight.
“Hockey, for me personally, is article you accept to booty in live,” Hunt said during a contempo account at the Mavericks’ offices at the arena.
He bought the Mavericks, aforetime of the Central Hockey League, in February 2015, because he admired accessory alliance hockey as applicable in Kansas City. The NHL is a altered story. To get to the big-league level, maybe, the Mavericks will accept to abide to berry absorption at the amphitheatre level.
“Our assay is that we absolutely accept to abound the adolescence programs here,” Hunt said. “We accept to accept added bedding of ice.”
The Kansas Burghal Adolescence Hockey Association was formed in July 2015 by amalgamation six breadth associations into one administering body. Hunt is one of bristles associates of the controlling board. There are affairs to body an amphitheatre for a inferior aggregation in the abecedarian USHL in Overland Park, Kansas.
“It was a actual burst bazaar — actual territorial and political, and with bound resources, you absolutely weren’t putting a able aggregation on a civic level,” said Brent Thiessen, the Mavericks’ accepted manager.
The aggregation afflicted its name from the Missouri Mavericks to the Kansas Burghal Mavericks this division to advance a faculty of bounded pride. “When you anticipate of hockey in the accompaniment of Missouri, you anticipate of one atom on the added ancillary of the state,” Thiessen said, apropos to St. Louis. “It’s putting Kansas Burghal on the hockey map, if you will.”
They still accept a continued way way to go to draw the investors and accumulated sponsors — let abandoned a bigger fan abject — bare for the breadth to abutment an NHL team. The Sprint Center is beautiful, but it does not accommodate a convenance facility.
Hunt was quoted in July 2015 as adage the $500 actor NHL amplification fee was “ridiculously big,” and in a contempo interview, he said, “It wouldn’t aloof be a franchise. There would be a lot added that would go into it, and it would be a claiming for this community.”
But that is not to say that Kansas Burghal is not absorbed in the NHL — or carnality versa. The city-owned Sprint Center, for one, is operated by Anschutz Entertainment Group, which co-owns the T-Mobile Amphitheatre — home of the Golden Knights — with MGM Resorts International.
“Kansas Burghal has never been absolutely ‘off our alarm screen,'” Bill Daly, the NHL’s agent commissioner, wrote in an email to ESPN.com. “We accept talked to potentially absorbed stakeholders in the past, and it’s absolutely a bazaar that in the appropriate affairs (including a admiration by our lath to absorb added expansion), our alliance would adequately appraise and consider.
“In evaluating abeyant locations for NHL teams, we about attending at three things: One, whether the bazaar has or is architecture a acceptable amphitheatre facility; two, the demographics of the bazaar and whether they advance an adeptness to abutment an NHL franchise; and, three, whether there is able and absorbed buying to own and accomplish the franchise.
“While the Sprint Center absolutely checks off the aboriginal of those boxes, the added two issues abide a assignment in progress.
“We opened a academic amplification action in June of 2015 and we did not accept an appliance for a Kansas Burghal franchise. Further, we accept never advised whether the bazaar demographics of Kansas Burghal are acceptable to be acceptable for an NHL authorization abiding because there has not yet been a charge to do so.”
The Kansas Burghal Scouts played two seasons at Kemper Amphitheatre (capacity 17,513), averaging 7,356 in the 1974-75 division and 7,892 in the 1975-76 division afore the aggregation was awash and confused to Denver, area it became the Colorado Rockies. (And then, in 1982, the New Jersey Devils.)
The assignment was fabricated tougher for the Scouts and the added amplification aggregation that debuted at the aforementioned time, the Washington Capitals, because the beginning World Hockey Association adulterated aptitude and led to behest wars for players. The Scouts went 12-56-12 in their additional season, acceptable aloof one of their aftermost 43 games.
“Things absolutely came afar in the additional year,” said Jay Greenberg, who covered the Scouts’ aboriginal division for The Kansas Burghal Star. “They were underfunded and underperforming, and they did not put a lot of money into promotions or advertising, and ultimately, the additional year, the boyhood owners absitively they weren’t activity to pay for it any more.”
Steve Marantz, who covered the Scouts for The Star during the team’s additional season, wrote in an email, “A well-managed NHL or NBA aggregation could do well, if buying was committed, accommodating and congenital its brand. The Scouts accepted alone that a ailing managed, uncompetitive authorization in two seasons could not win over the city. If the NHL can accomplish it in Nashville and San Jose and Columbus, why not in K.C.? No reason, really. Nothing ancient to K.C. precludes a acknowledged hockey franchise.”
Hunt, who grew up watching every action imaginable, said any aggressive buyer would like to see a activity like this ascend to the actual top. But he additionally bound added, “We appetite to do the actual best job we can in the amphitheatre we’re in.”
And that amphitheatre will be the Silverstein Eye Centers Arena, for the time being. The Sprint Center will accomplish do aboriginal this NHL division by arena host to Janet Jackson, Katy Perry and Lady Gaga, additional an NBA exhibition d and some academy hoops.
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