Here's a nice write-up and video of Kansas City officials talking about the prospects of filling their arena with the Islanders. Talking to an association of K.C. developers, the city manager makes two assumptions that require caveats when considering the Islanders:
- 1) He doesn't foresee any city building a new arena in this climate. (Never mind that it's Wang and partners who are really putting up the money -- although the economic-climate argument could still apply to Wang's finances ... right?)
- 2) He doesn't see any relocation-luring (whether NHL or NBA) heating up until after a season. (That doesn't really make sense, and it's criticized later in the article. If anything, activity would heat up if things bogged down after environmental review for the Lighthouse Project is finished. For more on the steps for the Islanders Lighthouse Project, check Let There be Light(house)).
It's urban development talk -- which carries a necessary amount of cheerleading -- but it's interesting to see how K.C. is talking nonetheless.
Justin Kendall, who wrote the piece on the blog of The Pitch, K.C.'s alternative pub, also has some perspective quotes from Neil deMause, a New York resident and "author of Field of Schemes, a Web site devoted to the ins and outs of stadium deals."
The money quote, to me:
"You don't leave New York for Kansas City," deMause said. "Even in a down economy, there's more opportunities to make money in New York.
"Maybe if Nassau Coliseum were literally falling down, and they felt like we're not going to get anything, but they're pretty close to getting deal in Long Island," he added. "It's just a matter of getting the local government to sign off on some of the approvals. It's not like there was $300 million gap or something like there was in Seattle."
"You still have the same problem that you've got the nice new building, but it's still a smallish market and you still have the risk of teams like the [Pittsburgh] Penguins just using Kansas City as a means of leverage on their hometowns."
Ultimately, that's what it comes down to. To take a similar case closer to (my) home: St. Louis, a similar market across the state, had to absolutely bend over backwards to lure the NFL Rams from Los Angeles -- and the city is still paying for it today. Meanwhile, MLS has done a nice job of leveraging a long-ready St. Louis expansion bid to prod real movement (politically and financially) in other markets that the soccer league seems to covet more (Seattle, Philadelphia, and counting...).
For a market like Kansas City, the reality is it would still take something dire -- or an even greater, disproportionate influence in league offices by the forces of AEG -- to lure a team out of New York.
But as with Queens, I'm sure the Islanders don't mind the implied leverage.