This started as a response to Andy Strickland's blog on Garth Brooks interest in being a part of a KC hockey team, but it got too long, so here I go. I posted on these message boards about KC hockey before, so I thought I would compile it all into one blog.
First of all, I've lived in Kansas City for the better part of three years now, but I grew up a rabid St. Louis Blues fan.
I soon found that hockey is non-existent in Kansas City. For example, I needed a replacement blade for my stick. Three sporting goods stores later, I finally found the ONE branch that sells hockey gear. They didn't even have those really cheap street hockey sticks or any wooden sticks at the other stores! And good luck finding a rink here. I've always maintained that a strong amateur and recreational hockey base should be the starting point for an NHL franchise fan base. Here there are two rinks (and allegedly a third I've never seen with my own eyes), and the league I play in has three other teams, with some players playing on multiple teams. If I was going to bring a team to KC, I would start building up the youth hockey program.
Secondly, this is a one-horse town. If you're not the Kansas City Chiefs, you'd better win games, or else no one is going to come watch. I understand that people are fed up with the Royals, and maybe they have a right to be, just as Blues fans were angry with ownership during the sale of the team. But honestly, people are so nutty about the Chiefs that I think they would still go to the games, even if they were 0-16. People here often wonder if the city is big enough to support the Chiefs and the Royals AND an NBA and/or NHL team. While the population within city limits is larger than St. Louis, I'm not sure the metropolitan area is larger.
Thirdly, the people are impartial to getting a team. For a city that wants a team, they are not even REMOTELY interested in the NHL. I STILL have people ask me if the Penguins are moving to Kansas City, almost a year after they cut a deal for their new building. Maybe this is just my hockey fever, but if my town was pursuing an NHL team, I would be all over that like white on rice in a glass of milk on a white paper plate in a snowstorm. I'll never forget going to a Buffalo Wild Wings in March and asking if they could turn the TV to FSN to watch Blues hockey. My response from two different servers was "They're still playing hockey, now?" I really threw them for a loop when I went back to watch playoff hockey, and, despite all the sports channels they get, they didn't know what Versus was, and they told me that hockey season was over.
Fourthly, hockey has failed here before. We all know about the Kansas City Scouts, but in all fairness, they were terrible, so it's no wonder they didn't last. But they were only here two years or three years, so it's not like they had time to take root. After all, how many terrible teams did Sharks fans tolerate until recently? Most recently, the Kansas City Outlaws, a minor league team here, folded due to lack of interest.
Now, maybe getting a team here would get people to follow hockey and play hockey. The "If you build it they will come idea" if you will. But honestly, how hit or miss has that strategy been for the NHL? Did that work in Florida with the Panthers? If the Ducks hadn't been Cup contenders, how long would they have lasted? And we all know about the scrutiny in Nashville.
I don't know, but if I was going to invest a couple hundred million in a team to move it somewhere else, I'd think twice about Kansas City, and look at my other options first. At the very least, someone needs to spark interest in playing the game by building rinks and programs.