Let’s be honest. The “Kansas City Penguins” has no ring to it. It cannot compare to the way the words “Pittsburgh” and “Penguins” rolls off your tongue. Four syllables versus six. I don’t like the idea of Pittsburgh losing their NHL team at all[cbc].
I have a lot of family who live in and around KC. I grew up making many trips to visit my grandparents and seeing the sights where my parents first met(don’t ask me how they ended up in Iowa). The long stretches of interstate 80 and 35 were the way that I learned how to drive on four lane freeways. It’s probably the main reason that I have longed to live in a metropolitan area for most of my adult life.
The odd thing is, I have never been to a professional sporting event in KC. I have been inside Arrowhead Stadium for the city’s sesquicentennial celebration(got to see Little Richard and Kenny Rogers in the same night), but that’s about it. You cannot dispute that there are die hard Royals and Chiefs fans in the city, and the record of each respective team does little to change that. I really can’t be too sure about the Wizards of the MLS, but the following can be seen for those who love the futbol.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Pittsburgh Penguins could play rent-free and be equal managing partners in the new Sprint Center if they move to Kansas City, under an offer unveiled Thursday by the arena’s operating group.
Tim Leiweke, president of Anschutz Entertainment Group, said the Penguins would not have to buy into the management agreement. The $276 million Sprint Center is scheduled to open in October. […]
“They have told us they will make a decision within 30 days,” Leiweke said. “We will know within 30 days whether they are going to work out their issues in Pittsburgh and get an arena built, or whether they will ask the NHL for permission to move the team to Kansas City.” [espn]
There is no doubt in my mind that KC is fully capable of handling a hockey team. The Sprint Center[wiki] has been built specifically to lure a team from the NHL, there’s no disputing that. They probably would have lived with a minor league team, but the people behind the push wanted to go pro. Are the people of KC ready for it? I can’t be too sure.
Chatting briefly with one of my cousins who lives in the area, he thought they already had a team there. And they did… up until about five years ago. Even then, the Kansas City Blades[wiki] were only an IHL team. Oddly enough, they were also an affiliate of the Vancouver Canucks until the IHL folded in 2001.
Is my fifteen year old cousin a solid source for the mindset of the entire Kansas City metropolitan area? Probably not, but it kind of shows you that this will be more like when the Nashville Predators started into the league. You’ll have to start teaching hockey to a new legion of fans if the Penguins move to KC.
The one saving grace in all of this is star power, and we all know that the Penguins have that. I can already see car dealerships in the metro area of KC with Sidney Crosby’s endorsement or the lighting of the Plaza lights being done by Evgeni Malkin at the switch. The Sprint Center being in the downtown core of the city offers numerous possibilities to market the team and city at the same time.
It’ll be a daunting move if Lemieux takes the team to the midwest, and I’ve been itching to see that happen. The bitter rivalry of having the St. Louis Blues come into town will already brew an attraction for fans to come out and support the local team for a long time. I do wonder if they’ll retain the name if they move, but “KC Pens” does pop up in my head. You can already hear sports reporters saying it.
Also, don’t think for a minute that Missouri having two NHL teams is an overkill. That’s like telling someone from Alberta that they should only have one team in that province. It actually takes less time to drive between Calgary and Edmonton than it does for St. Louis and Kansas City.
When it comes down to it, I would really like to see the Penguins stay in Pittsburgh. If they have to move, then make it KC. The midwest needs more hockey.