NAHL coming to KC

Discussion in 'All other USA Amateur, USHL, NAHL, USNTDP etc.' started by GareFan18, Sep 7, 2018.

  1. GareFan18 Registered User

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    In an e-mail to the youth hockey association in KC, Lamar Hunt Jr., who owns the Kansas City Mavericks (ECHL) and Topeka Pilots (NAHL), announced he's bringing an NAHL team to suburban KC.

    A new rink is being built in Olathe, KS, about 25 miles Southwest of downtown KC. The announcement hasn't hit the local media, yet.

    More to come...
     
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  2. Barclay Donaldson Registered User

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    Doesn't Lamar Hunt Jr. also own the rights to a USHL franchise? And hasn't he also had several premium plans for arenas to house that USHL team all over suburban KC, like that BluHawk arena in Overland Park? There's some pieces missing from this puzzle.

    If LH Jr. goes the NA route and that Olathe rink does get built, it could very easily be a straight up relocation of the Topeka Pilots and not expansion. From what I can gather, the league likes having four even divisions of six teams and they want to avoid watering down their product, which they've spent the better part of a decade endeavoring to improve, in the face of rising competition from the USPHL-NCDC in New England and Canadian Tier II.

    Since he owns the Topeka team straight out, moving them shouldn't be difficult. Attendances have lingered around 1,000 the past few seasons in their cavernous +7500 seat arena. LH Jr. was negotiating a 2-3 year lease after he bought the team, plenty of time for the new potential arena to be built and then get out. And Olathe is less than an hour away from Topeka, so their fellow South Divisions won't see any difference in travel.
     
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  3. GareFan18 Registered User

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    I have heard that he does own the rights, or right of first refusal, to a USHL team. That's one of my unanswered questions...why NAHL?

    Yes, Southern Johnson County has had several proposals for new arenas, including Southwestern Shawnee, BluHawk in Overland Park and the former Great Mall of the Great Plains site. There are no pieces to the puzzle missing. Lamar's sports venture talked to the Olathe City Council back in January. It seems it is now a go. The site is perfect. The footprint is huge, the infrastructure and parking is already there, easy access to the highway and plenty of room for all those things that spring up around arenas, like Fairfield Inns and Outback Steakhouses.

    You may be on to something. Hockey teams in Topeka have had a consistent problem negotiating leases with Shawnee County. Heck, they take the ice completely down every year in, I believe, February.
     
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  4. JMCx4 Gateway to Hockey

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    Zactly, on all counts. :thumbu:
     
  5. Barclay Donaldson Registered User

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    You said the magic words.

    Gotta get everything right with Hutch lurking around every corner ready to make a nonsensical comment.
     
  6. mk80 Registered User

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    This is an article from 2016, from what I can gather from this and a couple others I read. Hunt does own USHL rights, but the team was already supposed to be playing by now. Maybe he lost those rights somehow or since buying the Topeka NAHL franchise he's decided to solely concentrate on that and move them over to the area.

    Lamar Hunt Jr. on the verge of bringing another hockey team to Kansas City area
     
  7. GareFan18 Registered User

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  8. GareFan18 Registered User

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    In the bizarre world of Southern Johnson County politics, there are now TWO proposals for arenas in the suburbs.
    Olathe, Overland Park have plans to build hockey arenas

    The chances of their NOT being a new arena (with two sheets of ice) in the KC metro is slim. Now, where it will be and whether it will be NAHL or USHL seems to be up in the air).

    And, for those who are not familiar with Kansas City, Johnson County is the affluent suburb on the Kansas side of the metropolitan area. Both of these proposed arenas are about a 40-minute drive from the arena where the ECHL Kansas City Mavericks play.
     
  9. Barclay Donaldson Registered User

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    There's probably two plans because there's a decent chance that one doesn't get the green light. Not familiar with the politics of the area regarding construction, but the hockey part of the plans aren't too dissimilar and that might be for a reason. Small arena that fits 3,000-4,000 and a practice rink attached. I doubt their plan is to build both, but to pick one or the other.

    Also think that it can only be a relocation of the Topeka Pilots in the NA. Lamar Hunt Jr. bought the rights to a USHL expansion franchise contingent upon it playing within a certain timeline, because the league recently said they're happy with how the league is meaning expansion, and contraction, are both unlikely. That was three years ago and LHJr recently bought the Topeka Pilots of the NAHL. NAHL has also said that expansion outside of Alaska isn't happening due to increased competition from Canadian Tier II and the USPHL. A straight-up relocation of Topeka an hour east is the most realistic scenario.
     
  10. JDogindy Jerk

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    Meanwhile, Paul Skjodt hasn't moved forward with his plans on building that new ice rink for the Indiana Ice. I think it's time that should move on, as well; the Indy Fuel have taken over all of the development of hockey in central Indiana.
     
  11. GareFan18 Registered User

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    Lamar hasn't mentioned the USHL in a couple of years. In the last media interview he conducted, he said he's most likely lining up an NAHL team for Olathe to be a rival for his Topeka team. He's also pursuing another ice facility in the Topeka/Lawrence area in order the grow the game at the grassroots level. A straight up relocation of the Topeka NAHL team seems the least likely (unless they run into lease problems with Shawnee County for Landon Arena...again)

    Both arenas are contingent on STAR bonds. Municipalities can apply for STAR bonds in order to fund major commercial, entertainment and tourism areas. The Kansas Speedway (NASCAR track) and surrounding area was financed through STAR bonds. Basically, it redirects sales tax revenue from the development to pay off the bonds. Without going into the politics of it, one can assume only one of the two developments will be able to get the State to approve STAR bonds.
    (so, there is no "their plan". It's two different plans. LHJr is attached to one of them)
     
  12. Barclay Donaldson Registered User

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    Doubt the league wants to expand anymore. They’ve said they like the four even divisions of six teams each for traveling and scheduling reasons, in addition to not watering down their product anymore in face of increased competition both domestic and foreign. The only expansion they would consider would be Alaska and the Northwest to help out Kenai and Fairbanks but that’s it.

    LHJr. signed a three year lease to stay in Topeka. That’s plenty of time to get a KC deal done, built, and relocate the team. I don’t think he would be able to pull off an EC team, UShow team, and NA team in the KC area. He’s growing hockey pretty well there, but 3 teams in the market is stretching the hockey entertainment dollars very thin.
     
  13. BKarchitect Registered User

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    Would much rather have the USHL of course but any good youth hockey league is welcomed and I would certainly go to some NAHL games. The hockey experience in the cavernous craphole known as the Expocenter in Topeka isn't great. Never been to a Pilots game but used to go to plenty of Scarecrows games back in college.
     
  14. GareFan18 Registered User

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    Why would there be three teams?

    At this point, it looks like there will be an ECHL team in Independence and a Junior team in Southern Johnson County. Des Moines supports AHL and USHL. Omaha supports NCAA D1 and USHL. There is no reason why KC won't support ECHL and USHL/NAHL.
     
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  15. Barclay Donaldson Registered User

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    Lamar Hunt Jr. at one point or another acquired the rights to a USHL franchise, whether that was on paper or it was a backroom promise. That would make it three teams that he owns: the unnamed USHL franchise along with the Topeka Pilots and the Missouri Mavericks. He's trying to build two arena complexes. I just put two and two together and thought that he was trying to put a USHL team in one and relocate Topeka to the other to make it three teams in KC. In addition, word is he lost the UShow team since him actually acquiring it was contingent upon him getting the arena and that didn't happen.

    I wasn't doubting their ability to support two teams, most midwest metro areas can do it pretty safely like the ones you've mentioned. I was doubting their ability to support three teams along with the very low likelihood of both arenas getting approved considering the story of him trying to build the BluHawk complex to house a UShow team is from 2016 and he's run into problems trying to get arenas built since. A big issue are the STAR bonds which I don't know much about since I'm not local, but they're brought up in every article explaining the situation.

    I was also doubting the likelihood of three teams since he assuredly couldn't get both a new NA and UShow franchise. The NA has come out and said they like the 4 even divisions of 6 teams each and the only expansion they would consider is in Alaska to help out Kenai and Fairbanks with travel or else they risk watering down their product, which is facing increased competition from Tier II in Canada and the USPHL-NCDC. Hence the relocation of Topeka in three years when the lease is up, he can leave for free, and one of the planned arenas is completed, he more than likely wouldn't be given a new NA franchise. The USHL also doesn't want to expand, mostly for the same reasons except their competition is the W and the O. They've been linked with a ton of expansion and relocation candidates the past few years but they've shot down every potential market that's come up.
     
  16. GareFan18 Registered User

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    LHJr. is not trying to build two arena complexes in Kansas City. He is involved in the arena complex in Olathe. He is not involved in the Overland Park arena proposal.

    He said he wants to pursue another rink in Topeka. He hasn't said anything about an "arena" in Topeka, only a "rink".
    I've heard, for years, about an ice rink in West Lawrence, which would only be 20 minutes away from Shawnee Heights High School in Topeka. There were talks with the City of Lawrence about an ice facility near Rock Chalk Park. There were rumors Rodney Steven II (Wichita Thunder owner) was looking into a rink and now LHJr. has actually said that he's looking into it. All these things make me think the Pilots aren't relocating any time soon.
     
  17. JMCx4 Gateway to Hockey

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    Having another NAHL team within a driving distance my wife will tolerate would increase my annual road trip options. Welcome news for us both.
     
  18. BKarchitect Registered User

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    KC Scouts name may grace new hockey team

    [​IMG]

    Hunt has trademarked the name and logo. No word on ETA - might be two years off given that I don't believe they've even broke ground yet and early this year they had planned to break ground in June with an ETA of end of 2020.

    Pretty crazy right now...you've got BluHawk with a 3,500 seat ice arena as a centerpiece in OP, you've got this Mentum project with a 3,700 seat ice arena as the centerpiece at the old Great Mall site. And I think PrairieFire is adding outdoor rinks along with the Chicken & Pickle.

    I'm all for more sheets of ice and grassroots youth hockey momentum - which definitely seems to be picking up steam. But I'm a little curious that two nearly identical arena projects got approved for nearly $70 million in bonds each located 15 minutes apart. The development competition between the cities in Johnson County is crazy.
     
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  19. CHRDANHUTCH Registered User

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    then how come Lewiston has an NAHL Team, BD
     
  20. GareFan18 Registered User

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    An old bowling alley (the Mission Bowl) burned down near Johnson Drive and SM Parkway. I wish someone with $$ and a creative thought would do something about that blighted area. The footprint is big enough for a single sheet of ice (like Line Creek or KCIC) and plenty of parking. Mind you, it wouldn't be an arena, but we could add a sheet of ice , just a few miles from KCMO, that would serve Northern Johnson County -- (SM East, Miege, Rockhurst, Pembroke, SMSouth & SMNorth kids).
     
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  21. JMCx4 Gateway to Hockey

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    "creative thought" in such an investment must focus on the end state beyond simply eliminating a presumed municipal blight. Adding single sheet ice facilities to encourage & support an area's youth hockey participation has been bad business in the U.S. since at least the 1980s. Success in growing youth hockey in metro areas since then has come from coordinated efforts to locate & build multi-rink complexes that act as hubs for minor hockey games & training & tournaments in strategic population centers (i.e., areas where the local residents are culturally inclined and economically able to support & utilize such a complex). Trying to increase available ice time with individual rinks just ends up dividing tax & facility management resources to the detriment of the ultimate goal of building & sustaining a community hockey infrastructure. And a further disservice is done to kids & their parents if they are constantly having to commute to multiple locations for games & practices.
     
  22. Barclay Donaldson Registered User

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    It's a bit late, but I hadn't seen anything posted here yet.

    https://www.kansascity.com/news/local/article236575943.html

    The Overland Park/Bluhawk location was awarded $66 million in STAR bonds and will proceed. The Olathe location received nothing, despite backing from Lamar Hunt Jr., because of the ongoing legal issues and doubts about the ability to support to arenas 10 miles apart.

    Not sure what this means for possible tenants. The USHL has an even 16 teams and are notoriously hesitant to expand. The NAHL would probably love to be in a market and arena like this, regardless of whether Lamar Hunt Jr. is at the helm or not.
     
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  23. JMCx4 Gateway to Hockey

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    You've gotta figure Jr.'s plan would be to relocate his Pilots franchise from Topeka, considering the conflicts he's had with the city & his lease @ KS Expocentre. Even if he still holds a chip for a USHL expansion franchise, I agree that possibility is remote due to possible conference imbalance & general inertia of the League. The only question that the October 2019 STAR bonds decision raises for me is whether Hunt Jr. & the Price Brothers Management folks remained (or have since settled) on cooperative terms after all the churn in the last couple of years over where & when a suitable arena would be built. Seems just as likely that the Bluhawk site could become home to a dislocated NAHL franchise from somewhere other than Topeka (requiring another investor/group to step up), leaving Jr. to pursue a different strategy for growing his KC area hockey holdings.
     
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  24. JMCx4 Gateway to Hockey

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    P.S. - Clues as to near-future expansion/relocation within the NAHL may come from their decision in October to award another franchise to Wichita Falls.
     
  25. Barclay Donaldson Registered User

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    I agree, the NAHL looks a lot more likely. However, will it be a relocated franchise? The NAHL has lost their concern with geographic balance by expanding to New Mexico and Maine this season and Wichita Falls will make it 8 teams in the south division with the others have 7 or 6 teams. They're caring a lot more about the sustainability of the franchise with ownership money (Wichita Falls, New Mexico) or how much it will rebuff the USPHL-NCDC (entire Eastern Division, especially Maine). But, moving Topeka to the Midwest division with the entrance of a new Alaska team and two NA3HL teams buying NAHL franchises (as Granite City, North Iowa, and Rochester all have been public about) could blow that up back to even. But, the NAHL has the legacy of doing outright crazy crap and might be looking at British Columbia again for all I know.

    USHL likely won't expand. The demise of Central Illinois certainly put a damper on it, and the league was hesitant about expansion to begin with. They didn't even put their full force behind the Rochester, MN arena bid despite that being a bigger target than Kansas City ever could be. I'm not aware of any that are anywhere near unstable now to be relocated after Central Illinois flatlined. They do like double expansion though, so if another target appears...
     

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