Saturday, 11 June 2016

Give Kansas City a Chance!

With a beautiful arena for basketball or hockey, it's amazing to think Kansas City doesn't have another professional sports team. With the Chiefs & Royals having excellent fan bases and fielding great teams in the past couple seasons, it got me thinking about the time the Pittsburgh Penguins and then the Nashville Predators in about a year's span, were given the real possibility of relocation to KC in 2006 & 2007. The reason being: Sprint Arena.

To call Sprint Arena the best option for relocation for a team in either "arena" leagues (being that teams in the NBA & NHL can share arenas) stadium wise isn't far from the truth. For one, it actually exists, unlike Seattle's new areas, Québec City's new arena isn't finish and Las Vegas's new arena would need some work; assuming any of these cities were to get a team in respective leagues.

Outside of the current 2 major league teams, the Missouri city had the Kansas City Athletics before they moved to Oakland. The A's at this time were....awful. They hosted the 1960 All Star Game sure, but to call a 74-86 season your best season in 12 years of being saying something. The A's had some stars...briefly. Cardinals star Enos Slaughter, Yankees legend Reggie Jackson and Satchel Paige all played for the A's in KC. Along with that, reliever Vern Handrahan is from Prince Edward Island, and I have a soft spot for the team because of his story. Furthermore, the A's adopted their famous gold & green while in KC, and carried over the jerseys used from 1965-67 to Oakland under famous owner Charles O. Finley.

Kansas City's other professional sports team was the Kansas City Scouts in the NHL...and they were a colossal failure. The team never made the playoffs, and in two seasons between 1974-76, the team won 27 games, lost 110, and tied 23. The team however, had a beautiful logo that holds up to this day, and while they were never popular at the time, have grown popular as a throwback team. The Scouts kept their red, blue & yellow and moved to Colorado before the 1976-77 season, and the Rockies would move to New Jersey to become the Devils we know today in 1982.

So why not since then?

College basketball is a big part why the NBA won't move a team or expand to KC. Similarly to the logic of "Why not put an NFL team in Alabama", putting a team in the same sport as a popular NCAA team is business suicide for the new team. An NBA could not compete with not only the Jayhawks, but also the Kansas State Wildcats. Sure the Chiefs work against the Kansas State Football team, but the Wildcats have never won the national championship, and while they are a decent program, they are not the same level as the Jayhawks basketball program.

Kansas City did have an NBA team from 1972-1985 and moved to Sacramento in 1985 due to lack of interest. The team made the playoffs 5 times and even made it to the conference finals in 1981, and won their division in 1979. Not the worst record for a 70s/80s basketball team not called the Lakers or Celtics. Having a team fail hurts a team's likelihood of getting another team, even 30 years after the relocation happened.

As for hockey...well... Since the 2007 relocation threat, KC hasn't had much buzz about hockey. There hasn't even been an attempt to put an ECHL or AHL team in the city, which is common in non-traditional hockey markets, or previously failed markets. Oklahoma City, Cleveland, Winnipeg at one point, Québec City at one point, Columbus at one point have all had minor league teams to test the market, and teams like the Monsters, Moose & Chill have all worked, while the Oil Barons and Citadels did not. KC did have the Blades in the old IHL until said league folded and merged with the AHL, leaving the Blades behind in the process. Since 2001, Kansas City has had no real tangible interest or plans to replace either the Blades or the Scouts. Most interest comes from outside the city, suggesting they should have a team whether they want it or not.

If Kansas City wanted a team in either league, there'd first have to be the obvious expansion bid. The NHL's expansion period is over for now, with Las Vegas looking like the winner of a new team. The NBA on the other hand has had no desire to expand since the addition of the Bobcats (Now using the old Hornets name) in 2004. The league is at 30 teams, and with stability in Sacramento, no team seems to be on the chopping block for the time being. That could change with Seattle's inevitable bid for a new Super Sonics team, Kansas City might be able to get a team in the West supposing Memphis or Milwaukee moved to the East and join Chicago in the Central division. That would leave each conference with 16 teams and make a 32 team league.

In short, Sprint Arena is being wasted now, it's less than a decade old and has only been used for Arena Football and NCAA Basketball. If Kansas City gets an NBA team, the more likely of the two leagues, it won't fail, I think it very well could succeed, and Pittsburgh/KC are the best cities for an NBA team not called Seattle SuperSonics. As for NHL, starting small is the key. Get that ECHL team, get that AHL team and prove that people in Kansas City want hockey! 

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