Author: Dave Brooks
Date: October 17,2007

The highly anticipated Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo.,
officially opened its doors Oct. 10 and brought in over 21,000
people in 12 hours to tour the facility. The day also included an
announcement by Garth Brooks for plans to perform a concert at the
facility that will be broadcast live at 300 movie theaters.The
initial visitors experienced the College Basketball Experience
which opens today; visited two open concession stands: “Taco
Taco” and “Oak Street Pizza”; were given free
drinks from UMB Bank and other free items: UMB Bank cups, frisbees,
and ice scrapers. UMB Bank is the only ATM in the new arena because
it is a Sprint Center Founding Partner along with Farmland, The
University of Kansas Hospital, QuikTrip and Olevia.Brooks has nine
shows planned for the facility, which is managed by AEG.
Wednesday’s ribbon cutting ceremony featured speeches from
Kansas City officials and facility general manager Brenda Tinnen.
Levy, the facility’s concessionaire, provided food for the
entire event.The first concert was held Oct. 13 with a special
sellout performance by Elton John, as well as a fireworks display
outside the building, explained Public Relations Director Shani
Tate Ross.“The response was overwhelming. We really got a
sense of how many people in Kansas City supported the
building,” she said.The next concerts planned include
performances by Rascal Flatts on Oct. 25, Van Halen on Oct. 26,
Hannah Montana on Dec. 3, Billy Joel on Dec. 6 and the
Trans-Siberian Orchestra on Dec. 8. WWE Smackdown! with ECW will be
held at the Sprint Center on Oct. 23 and the College Basketball
Experience Classic is slated for Nov. 19 and 20. The Association of
Volleyball Professionals will host an indoor arena event on Jan.
12. “This facility will help bring new talent to the area and
put Kansas City on the map as a must play,” said AEG
President and CEO Tim Leiweke. “Artists are eager to get into
new arenas like the Sprint Center and the entertainment market is
there to support a diverse array of talent.” The big news at
the press conference was Brooks’ announcement that his Nov.
14 final concert in a sold-out series of nine will be simulcast
live to more than 300 movie theatres nationwide in association with
National CineMedia’s Fathom Events. The performance is being
presented by Sprint, and captured and distributed by Horse of Troy
Productions Inc., Jon Small/Picture Vision and AEG Network
LIVE.“It’s things like this that make me praise
technology. The gift that AEG and NCM Fathom participating theatres
have given me is to be able to go on a virtual tour without leaving
home. How does it get any better than that?” said Garth
Brooks during the press conference.Movie theatre tickets will be
$10 apiece with an encore broadcast on Nov. 15. Tickets for the
live event, and the eight other concerts — 159,779 total
— sold out in 1 hour and 58 minutes after going on sale.
Brooks’ last tour was in 1998.The facility is still without
an anchor sports tenant, although there are plans to host eight
Arena Football League games there. The facility will also host a
handful of Big 12 basketball games and the 2008 Big 12 Conference
men’s basketball tournament, in addition to the first and
second rounds of the 2009 NCAA Men’s Tournament and the
regional rounds of the 2010 NCAA Women’s
Tournament.“We’re closer than we’ve ever been to
getting a sports franchise in that facility,” said Leiweke.
“The addition of the new AEG arena in Las Vegas creates two
facilities in need of a franchise, which actually makes it easier
to get a tenant. Now we have the ability to add teams to both
divisions, to maintain the league balance in both the NBA [National
Basketball Association] and the NHL [National Hockey
League].”Ground was broken for the arena on June 24, 2005,
and construction completed on Oct. 10. The final design, by the
Downtown Arena Design Team (a collaboration of architectural firms
360 Architecture, Ellerbe Becket and HOK Sport), was selected in
August 2005. The cost of the building was $276 million with 18,500
seats and 72 suites. The facility is owned by the city of Kansas
City.The building also shares a home with the College Basketball
Experience, an interactive museum operated by the National
Association of Basketball Coaches. The space includes a three-point
shooting contest, slam dunk exhibit, a passing drills game and a
full-sized basketball court. — Dave BrooksInterviewed for
this story: Shani Tate Ross, (816) 949-7170; Tim Leiweke, (213)