"...if our new Sprint Center is anything like this joint (St. Paul's Xcel Energy Center), we're in for a real treat here in K.C. later this year..."—B. Holland, March 26, 2007.
I usually don't like to blow my own horn, but darned if I didn’t call this one right! The city of Kansas City seems to have gotten it right for a change too, as our new arena is everything they said it would be. The Sprint Center is definitely a MAJOR upgrade over our outdated and aging dump with a hump in the Stockyards, Kemper Arena—talk about going from the outhouse to the penthouse! I could still smell the paint drying as I paid my first visit to the new joint, but I was quite impressed with what I saw during the big public open house last night. I'm very pleased to report that it doesn't suck...
It’s also rather sweet to be able to say that K.C. once again has something better than our neighbors to the east in St. Louis do, given our collective inferiority complex when it comes to the Gateway City. I actually did attend the open house for the Kiel/Savvis/ Scottrade/ScottTowels (or whatever it’s called now) Center in St. Louis (I just happened to be in town that weekend when it first opened in 1994) and I thought it was a nice arena (and still is), but it didn’t have the "wow" factor at first blush for me that Sprint Center does. The folks who designed this rascal definitely did their homework and integrated as many features and amenities as they could from other state-of-the-art sports arenas into this one.
Just as I had hoped, the layout of the seating bowl of Sprint is very similar to that of the St. Paul arena (home of the Minnesota Wild), the concourses are huge, the sightlines are excellent and the scoreboard and signage are a show in and of themselves. There are also three vast improvements over Kemper Arena here: The lighting over the arena floor doesn’t have that dark, shadowy coffee-house effect, the PA system doesn’t sound like a ’70s Kraco 8-track car stereo (SRV sure sounded sweet playing overhead), and—my personal favorite—we now have well-lit arena restrooms that don’t reek of old dirty mop bucket water! No more peeing into a trough with rusty pipes attached to them either, as the johns at Sprint have individual urinals and toilets for to relieve one’s self in. Hopefully the concert acoustics will be far superior to the murky ones at Kemper, too.
The College Basketball Experience and Coaches Hall of Fame—also part of the arena complex—looked impressive too, although not all of the interactive exhibits are open to the public just yet. Now the city just needs finish up the adjacent Power & Light entertainment district, and the future home of the Nashville Predators will be THE place to be in this long-moribund downtown, which has needed a kick in the caboose for about 30 years now. My overall impression of the Sprint Center: It's a killer!
Here’s a little pictorial essay of my tour yesterday:
Can you just imagine the Windex budget for this place?
My first view of the interior. Looks cool even with half a basketball court...
Right in the front rowwww! This pic was taken from the future location of the hockey penalty boxes.
And a view from the true Uecker seats, which actually weren't bad at all.
A word to the wise: Eat before you attend an event here—get a load of these concession prices! (Click pic to enlarge)