Every few years like clockwork, the rumor mill links Kansas City to a NBA team or a NHL team looking for greener pastures. With the startling news out of New York today, expect that to continue in upcoming weeks.
Per Bloomberg, the Barclays Center in Brooklyn will terminate its lease agreement with the New York Islanders after the 2018 – 2019 NHL season. Barclays Center, also home to the Brooklyn Nets, believe that the arena will make more money hosting concerts and other events.
The big question is where will the Islanders play moving forward. Kansas City may be the answer.
There are options in the New York metropolitan area, but this could be an opportunity for Sprint Center to land a permanent tenant. Fans remember the brief dalliances the NHL had with our fair city in years past. Both the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Islanders found themselves considering moves to Kansas City. The Islanders as recently as 2012.
Things could be different on this occasion, however. First of all, the Islanders have changed ownership since the last go around. The Islanders currently have lower attendance than all but two other teams in the league. As a result, owners Jon Ledecky and Scott Malkin may find themselves looking to make a move.
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A big thing working in Kansas City’s favor is the fact that Independence, MO is home to one of the Islanders’ farm teams in the Missouri Mavericks.
The Mavericks have worked tirelessly to grow the sport in Kansas City since being purchased by Lamar Hunt, Jr. in 2015.
Under Hunt’s watch, the Mavericks gained valuable player-development partnerships with both the Islanders and the St. Louis Blues.
In addition, Hunt is the owner of a new USHL team slated to begin play later this year.
If that wasn’t enough, Kansas City also has an in with the Islanders brass’s top adviser for arena plans. Tim Leiweke of Oak View Group spent the better part of a decade in the 80’s living in KC. During that time, he served as General Manager for the Kansas City Comets.
In addition, Leiweke worked for AEG, the owners of the Sprint Center, when the arena was built. Surely his familiarity with the building and the city can’t be a detriment to the cause here in Kansas City.
There is certainly a void in Kansas City in the professional sports scene during the cold winter months right now. College sports will always be popular in Kansas City. However, a NHL team could bring further credibility to Kansas City as a major league sports town.
Also, just imagine the atmosphere at Power & Light for a hypothetical late season match-up between the Kansas City Islanders (a rebrand might be in order) and the St. Louis Blues. Especially if a division title or playoff spot is on the line!