The Sprint Center in Kansas City is now open to the public. The KC Star has extensive coverage, including a lengthy retrospective on the journey to building the arena.
I saw some photos of the interior of this, which was very unimpressive. However, the exterior, with its mirrored panels, is very nice indeed. In fact, I’d say Kansas City has done a far better job than most places in its arena design. This is particularly interesting since it came from the institutional HOK, which, while a local company, was hardly noted for forward thinking designs.
One thing city leaders did before just handing the work to the local boys was the at least explore the option, how seriously I’m not sure, to hire Frank Gehry to design it. He even made a pitch for it to a local selection committee, though it is clear from the article that either Gehry was never a serious candidate or else wasn’t used to having to actually compete for commissions. Nevertheless, the threat of out of town competition from a prominent architect forced HOK to up its game, coming with a modern and attractive design. This can be a lesson to other cities. The local boys can indeed to better, and what’s needed to bring it out is a little competition.
I actually think KC can count itself fortunate that it did not award the deal to Gehry, who would almost certainly have just built yet another Bilbao clone.
Whatever anyone might say about hosting the Big 12 tournement, the real reason for this arena is to lure an NHL and/or NBA team. If it doesn’t, I’m sure it will be viewed as a failure in many quarters. The interesting thing is, this goes to show that you can’t just promise to have an arena now to lure a team, you already have to have one built. That’s quite a risk to take on indeed.