The Day of Arena Voting Will Come Anon

I was going to do something incredibly stupid and respond to certain snippets from press articles on the upcoming August 1st vote on Long Island for a new arena/minor league ballpark/etc.  I was going to, but this article by Jed Morey at the Long Island Press has everything you will need to know to form your own damn opinions.  Basically, if Long Islanders vote yes on the arena proposal, they will be one step closer to a new arena and keeping their struggling (but up and coming) Islanders.  If they vote no, then for all intents-and-purpose owner Charles Wang will take his ball and go home (or relocate the team).  This new arena deal appears to be the final offer Wang is making to Nassau Countians to keep the Islanders on Long Island.

Of course, with a ‘no’ vote the implications for Kansas City become interesting.  For example, the city will be talked about for relocation, only to have the Islanders move to Brooklyn or somewhere in the greater New York City area.  Bu hey, the Sprint Center will be on the news!!!  Either way, who knows what will happen, but stay tuned to this channel on August 1st or 2nd (or whenever I feel like looking at the results).  This may mean something for KC...or not (especially with everyone calling KC's chances dead.  I don't believe they are dead, just unlikely that any one within the city would be willing to revive them).

Here is the argument for a ‘no’ vote.

Interesting stuff from over at Islanders’ blog Lighthouse Hockey about a realistic cost to taxpayers with or without a new arena. 

Sam Mellinger: "AEG Killed My Father"

Men, this is apparently the enemy (not Luc Robitaille, the other guy)

As I posted previously, it’s Sprint Center article season at the Kansas City Star.  Additionally, Star sports columnist Sam Mellinger wrote an article in June talking about the NHL and NBA exhibition games coming to the Sprint Center this year (although, the NBA is locked out and stuff).  It was short, sweet, and just the beginning of the “Sprint Center ain’t got no NBA/NHL” media doldrums of the summer.  Mellinger skates around calling out AEG and their lack of getting a team for The Center, going as far as saying “this is one more year when the suits at AEG can pretend there is still a realistic chance of backing up their bravado that helped convince voters to fund the $276 million building” then going off an a tangent about the exhibition games (sorry, no link).  Personally, this is an issue I have always had with Mellinger.  None of his editorials blame someone, and when they do, it is kind of misguided.  But, finally, he did it right.  In his most recent article he blames AEG for insolence and Tim Leiweke for partnering with the Super-Devil.  But, really, he attacks AEG where they live.  Now that’s good reportin’!    
 LOS ANGELES | You should see this. Perhaps the best big sports arena in the country is connected by underground tunnel to one of the nation’s premier theaters. A delicious mess of restaurants and bars sit a hockey rink’s distance away.
Two brand-new, high-end hotels overlook the whole thing, with more nearby and still more on the way, a remarkable development that’s taken this part of downtown Los Angeles from dumpster to epicenter.
What’s happening here now is what we were told would happen in Kansas City.
That dream — the one Kansas City bought into seven years ago in approving construction of the Sprint Center — is now all but dead, at least in part because AEG, the company that pushed it on us, has moved on to a bigger project.
FM:  Mellinger is referring to Los Angeles’s LA Live district, Staples Center, and attempt to lure a NFL franchise by building a downtown football stadium, all owned, planned, and built by AEG.  The reason for the article: AEG did much of the same thing in Kansas City (the Sprint Center, the Power and Light District), but has not gone after an anchor tenant for the arena since about 2008.  That anchor tenant would bring 40+ events to the area per year, meaning additional money for businesses, and less the taxpayers might have to pay. 
Out here in LA, the hottest topic is AEG’s demand that the city council approve a tax-free plan by July 31 to build a new football stadium downtown that the company promises would attract an NFL franchise by next summer.
The measure is expected to pass in large part because AEG president and CEO Tim Leiweke is saying it’ll be easy to land a team. People back in Kansas City will remember that he’s used this playbook before.
Back at the Sprint Center, the chances of landing an NHL or NBA team have gone from Leiweke’s purported lock to cautiously hopeful to dying to now mostly forgotten.
FM:  Ah, Tim Leiweke.  Will Mellinger make him out as the villain this time?  Chances look good...
If you still hold out any hope for a team coming to the Sprint Center, you should know the company that bragged about making it all happen for us is no longer motivated to work on our behalf.
FM:  BAM!  As will see, Leiweke may officially be going from babyface to heel in the metro area of Kansas City.  He has done something that many Kansas Citians fear; treating the city like a second-class city.  Kansas Citians do not like to hear that LA is better, or the East Coast is the best coast, because KC does not like to be left out.  No major city does.  But KC can get lost within the Midwest and the plains as other destinations appear more attractive.  If you don’t believe me read this first, then this.  Mellinger touches on this emotion (“What, you think you are better than us?”) to get citizens on his side, so one day we can go to Leiweke’s house with torches and accuse him of witchcraft.  This is shaping up to be a decent Mellinger article.  Read on!
It’s telling that Leiweke is quoted constantly in the Los Angeles media but hasn’t talked to anyone in Kansas City in quite some time. He didn’t return multiple messages for this column.
He is among the most powerful men in sports and most visible figures in LA — sitting courtside at Lakers games — but he’s mostly a ghost when it comes to what was once presented in Kansas City.
FM:  See...
The official line out of AEG is that Leiweke will comment when something meaningful happens, which realistically means never.
Michael Roth, AEG vice president for communications, showed me around the company’s empire recently. When the conversation turned to what’s (not) happening in Kansas City, Roth talked around direct questions about whether the company is disappointed it hasn’t lived up to its boasts about putting a team in the Sprint Center and how much it’s still focused on doing so.
“Did we think it would be easier?” he said. “I guess so.”
FM:  Bad PR move by Mr. Roth.  “I guess so”?  That’s your answer?  Obviously there must be more to this discussion, but the basic truth remains that AEG does not appear to be doing much.  It makes sense that Leiweke and AEG won’t talk until something happens, but Mellinger makes it clear that nothing will happen.  I guess a better question would have been, “Does AEG care about KC?”  The answer would be yes because they are making plenty of cash on the arena, but do they want to put a team in the arena, or are they content just making it a concert and circus city.  What can we expect, or must we keep rehashing the same desultory article for the next five years saying how much AEG sucks until everyone gives up and moves on with their lives.  Mellinger does not gets this answer, nor does he answer it.
That mostly falls in line with evidence showing AEG either whiffed on predicting how many franchises would be available for relocation or overestimated its own power to influence those moves.
The result is that Kansas City is left with nothing better than Leiweke’s strong reputation and a possibility that he “owes” us a team. AEG no longer holds exclusive rights to negotiate a team for the Sprint Center, and it would be a heck of a thing if some third party did what the reputed kingmaker couldn’t.
FM:  SM brings up a good point, as now any owner can move a team into the arena.  It is uncertain how much this would cost them, but it makes sense to believe a new team would not get the sweetheart deal the Penguins were promised during their flirtation.  Free rent?  Not for you Mr. Wang.  How much money would AEG get in this situation?  All uncertain, but if AEG is trying to build this empire, an owner signing a lease and then reaping all the financial benefits from a team would surely anger AEG a bit.  Or maybe they just don’t care, as SM attempts to make us believe. 
(Aside:  Kingmaker?  There are two references to the LA Kings in this article that I have found)
AEG points to the fact that the Sprint Center remains profitable to the city even without an anchor tenant. That’s an important point but also one that misses the issue. Funding for the building was passed in large part because of the carrot of attracting a major pro team, and AEG’s failure to follow through is at least partly to blame for the Power & Light District’s becoming a public money-suck.
FM:  Yep, and as of one year ago, taxpayers are still paying for it.  What’s to say that would go down when the District sees 40+ more events from fans that come explicitly for sports purposes, and not the type of fans that come for a concert?  For example, Blues fans may come from St. Louis or Thunder fans may come from Oklahoma City to see their team play and spend money downtown, opposed to traveling to see Katy Perry if she is already playing in the Scottrade Center and the Ford Center (sorry, the Chesapeake Energy Arena), respectively.  It’s hard to say the economic impact on the taxpayers, but that’s the point, right?  To lower the taxpayer burden on an area that gets nothing but bad press. 
It’s frustrating to see that a similar blueprint is working beautifully in LA. Everything that AEG hasn’t done in Kansas City is being executed brilliantly in southern California.
Sports fans there have a world-class arena and theaters, a huge selection of restaurants and bars in which to hang out before and after events, relatively smooth traffic and parking … and the taxpayers aren’t billed a dime.
FM:  Yeah, apparently that’s still a major issue.
Los Angeles has roughly five times more people than Kansas City, so any comparisons should be taken in proper context. But even so, it’s painfully obvious that so much of what we were told would happen in Kansas City probably never will, while the same company is following through on a project that it plainly deems more important.
If you spend some time in LA’s new crown jewel, it’s hard not to wonder how important Kansas City ever was.
FM:  No, Kansas City really is not that important.  But, it is also a financial crapshoot.  People could support a team, but they may not.  They just need a chance.  But no one takes chances in today’s financial world.  Especially high-risk chances.  Why ruin a good thing the Sprint Center has going at the expense of possibly boosting revenues from nearby businesses and slightly reducing taxes (it’s impossible to say how much.  No one cares to lay out those figures just for kicks).

Again, it’s good that someone (namely Mellinger) finally went after AEG.  His prior articles elude blaming AEG and continue the “the arena is making money” rhetoric.  Like Pete Grathoff’s KC Star article last week (reminder: it’s that time of year to inundate the people of Kansas City with Sprint Center articles), SM attempts to steer to narrative towards why not having a third major sports team in the city.  This is the first legitimate news article that paints AEG as the ‘bad guy.’  And it’s finally not a huge opinion articles, so thank you for that, Mr. Mellinger (finally!).  Also, thank you for talking about this issue.  It’s job security for him (no sports= no job), but KC hockey and basketball fans appreciate someone asking questions.

Re: The Sprint Center Just Wants To Be Loved

This is from a post I did on another blog.  It is just easier to post the link and not repost the whole thing.  The article (from July 15, 2011, or last Friday) will catch you up to date on what the problem is in KC.

If you are link clicking challenged, here is the URL:

What Are You Doing Here?

I have never been very good with math or science.  That's probably the reason why I'm blogging, but I digress.  You don't care about that.  I did take one thing collectively away from all of my science classes in the history of ever at that was from my high school biology class.  We had a semi-kooky teacher who always wore a huge belt buckle that said "DAD" on it.  He was very enthusiastic about science, and from what I could tell, loved to teach.  We began the class with human biology.  One of the first things he told the class was the basic needs for all human:  "The basic needs all human beings strive for," he said, "are food, shelter, and a mate."  Food, shelter, and a mate.  Simple (I thought, 'what about water,' but this probably fits in with food, and had I been paying better attention, this may have been made clear).  This became the basic mantra throughout the rest of the year.  A mammal's main instinct is to procure food, shelter, and a mate.

So, if there are three basic things all humans need, where do sports (and entertainment) fall in?  Well, nowhere, according to science.  We don't need sports to live.  We don't need sports to survive.  Why do we play sports?  Why are we here?  Where are we going?  Why do we watch sports?  Things and stuff?  Politicians?  The mayor is on my ass and blah blah blah?

Take this recent post by Christmas Ape on the NFL comedy blog Kissing Suzy Kolber (changed text is in parentheses):

Most everything about sports is pointless and stupid. That we get emotional about people we will never meet who play a game for a living is stupid. That we live and die with the fortunes of teams, whose chief aim is to take our money in exchange for letting us be their supporters, is stupid. That government places sports above the needs of its citizens is stupid. That we care about players’ personal lives is stupid. That supposed professionals can dedicate their careers to saying deliberately trite and lazy things about sports in print and broadcast and call it a respectable – and sometimes lucrative – living is fucking stupid. That the blogosphere exists in large part only to point out just how trite and lazy the things that the established media says about sports is stupid. None of it matters. Spent energy that could be better utilized elsewhere. None of it will change the course of civilization in any meaningful way, other than maybe some of our cities will be reduced to rubble in a post-championship riot.
(Hockey) is fun. Like most things in life that are fun, it is pointless, stupid and ultimately bad for us. It also happens to be one of a million types of escapism available to the average American (and Canadian), no more practically useless than any of the others. So if you catch flak for being excited again for (hockey), be sure to take aim at whatever non-eating-breathing-procreating hobby the complaining dickhead in question favors. Chances are, it’s fucking up the world somehow, too.
More to the point, when football (or hockey aren’t) around, I’m forced to deal with larger, knottier life questions than who’s in my fantasy line-up. I’d just prefer not. It’s really a lot more uplifting to imagine (Zdeno Chara using the turnbuckle to destroy someone's) face.

Sports, and recreation in general, defy the idea of basic human survival.  They don't do anything; as an athlete you exercise, and as a spectator you sit and watch.  The two forms of human motion, active and resting, at work, but not at work to do anything productive.  To a passionate spectator, sports only help to raise blood pressure and increase the possibility of having a stroke or heart attack.  Otherwise, they don't improve society or humanity.  Athletics go against the Idea of Progress.  They are not necessary for existence.  Yes, yes, yes, I know, sports provide a certain economic impact within a society (jobs, money spent, etc. etc.) but none of us are going to the arena or stadium because it will somehow sustain our basic needs (although yes, they serve food, provide shelter, and have plenty of 'mates').  Sport exists as a luxury.

Sometimes I cringe to think that some of the most fun I had while in high school and college were at Kansas City Royals and Mizzou games, or celebrating being in the presence of such things.  Why?  What did it all matter?  I could have been reading, learning a foreign language, playing an instrument, developing a new skill, working to provide for my future, inventing something.  But no, I was idling, and being a crazy, avid nut.  But dammit, I had a fucking blast.  As Ape writes above, it kept my mind off of other shit that I would rather not think about.  School, work, my own mortality, the concept of pure reason vs. practical reason.  I'm not saying that being ignorant of life is the objective, but have some fun.  Sports, for me provide the joy past just acquiring food, shelter, and a mate.  Sports and hobbies are the definition of #firstworldproblems.  Until I struggle to obtain these basic needs, watching and playing sports will be a hobby of mine.

Sports entertain us.  That's all it is; entertainment.  And sometimes that entertainment needs to come in the form of grueling competition or with a disclaimer saying Someone may get decapitated during this event: Viewer discretion is advised.  Humans are just wired to be sick, twisted fucks.  It's what separates us from the animals (which, by the way, also search for food, shelter, and a mate).   A violent battle to the near-death is nothing more than a pissing contest between fans of those that watch the battle.  Then, at the end, some one guy or team get a trophy and are told to get back to work two weeks later and do it all over again.  That doesn't help society or humanity, but as I implied, we aren't perfect.  A utopia may exist without sports, but can a utopia be achieved?  For the sake of argument, let's say 'no.'  Is a utopia just the existence of people who want food, shelter, and a mate?  There is all of this political stuff and people following an ideal yada yada yada, but at the end you just end up chasing a fat kid with a spear.  So, maybe we have already achieved and are still achieving a more perfect society.  But, I don't see sports or recreation going anywhere.  They just change over time.  People inherently need something else to fill their lives than just scavenging.

So, don't feel bad watching hockey or football or whatever crazy-ass sport you like.  Cricket?  Not my game, but whatever.  Lacrosse?  Sorry, but who am I to judge.  Baseball?  If you can watch the MLB you are a better person than I (or from the Northeast and aren't a Mets fan).  But, who am I to judge?  I watch hockey, and if someone doesn't like it, I can look them in the eyes ask them what they do with their free time.  If they say anything other than "Be Jesus," I will know we are all in this together...


I decided to follow hockey at about eight years old.  Before that, I subconsciously chose to follow the Los Angeles Kings when my grandpa pointed out Gretzky as his favorite player during the '93 finals (I know what you are thinking, but that was before I started to follow hockey.  I didn't really start following the Kings until 1998ish).  Due to extensively playing NHL 1999 and 2000, I was sad when guys like Vladimir Tsyplakov and Donald Audette left the team.  The Jozef Stumpel and Glen Murray trade crushed me.

My experience playing hockey is limited.  At the age of 13 I decided I wanted to play, but my skating skills were still a tad shaky, suffice it to say it took a long time to learn how to fall correctly (and I had a looooooot of practice).  I nearly puked during my first practice, had the flu for the next week or so (missing more practices), and never went back.  An injury two years ago slowed my progression back onto the ice, but I hope to cast off the demons of my hockey playing past over the course of the next year.

I have lived in Kansas City most of my life.  Therefore, I have seen very little professional hockey.  I won't go through a long drawn out history of hockey in KC because you can look at that at the KC Hockey History link on the right side of this page.  I was a big Blades fan, and they folded.  I was an Outlaws fan, and they went bankrupt.  By avoiding the Missouri Mavericks I give them a chance to survive.  I never knew the NHL in KC (Scouts 1974-76) and only periodically see NHL games when I travel or when exhibition games come to the Sprint Center.  And since I didn't get Versus in college, the internet has been my only outlet for hockey (long live the great ruler INTERNET!!!).  I want to take a moment to thank all of the streamers and bloggers of hockey, because, without you, no one in a non-traditional hockey market would care about the game.

So, why do I want to write about hockey?  Well, my journey starts from my first love of baseball and being a diehard fan of the Kansas City Royals.  Recently, the MLB slowly killed my love of watching baseball.  If you really want to know why, live in a small market.  It just isn't fun anymore and I can't keep drinking the Kool-Aid.  Football is great, but everyone has an opinion.  I like to watch it, discuss it and all that, I just derive little joy from actually writing anything about it.  I don't feel like I know enough about how to play to be able to accurately write about it.  Plus, half of the posts would probably be titled "What a Douche..." and that gets us nowhere.

Why hockey and why KC?  Hockey because it will be an honor to join such a wide universe of hockey bloggers.  Hockey, and the NHL, are pretty cool (despite some odd business decisions) and not a lot of people outside of the Internet-o-sphere around the USA really talk about it.  Hockey is like an adopted child to me; baseball and football will always be my favorites, but I need hockey in the winter time after I get pissed off at the other two because they have let me down once again.  Recently, it has become a full-time obsession.  KC, because it does not have a team, but may possibly, maybe, sort of, not really, perhaps, doubtfully get one since the Sprint Center exists, teams are having financial issues, AEG (who owns the Kings) owns the arena, etc.  This is your KC hockey blog because, from what I can tell, very few exist.  So what do we talk about?  Well, basically this will consist of the possibility of teams coming to KC and other such news.  I will follow a few teams, take a few pictures, share a few laughs.  It will be loads of fun.  Plus, I really have nothing else to do over the course of the next year or so.  By then, we should know more about the Islanders, Coyotes, etc. and their stability in their perspective markets.  Until KC gets a team, that's how it will go.  After that, professional bloggers can take over and act like they know what they are talking about.  

But, like I said, let's have some fun with it!  Any suggestions are welcome.  Let's bring a team to KC (or at least discuss such a possibility) and remember......