NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said that “Kansas City has never been entirely ‘off our radar screen,'” when it comes to future expansion teams but stressed that a lot needs to happen before a team arrives in the city.
Daley was asked about the expansion prospects of Kansas City by ESPN’s Dave Caldwell, who reports that Lamar Hunt Jr., the son of former Chiefs owner Lamar Hunt, is interested in bringing a team there.
Lamar is currently the owner of the Kansas City Mavericks of the ECHL.
“We have talked to potentially interested stakeholders in the past, and it’s certainly a market that in the right circumstances (including a desire by our board to entertain further expansion) our league would fairly evaluate and consider,” Daly said in an email to Caldwell.
But he added that despite the city having an arena, the 17,500-seat Sprint Center, there are other factors that go into determining if a city can support a team.
“In evaluating potential locations for NHL teams, we typically look at three things,” Daly wrote. “One, whether the market has or is building a suitable arena facility; two, the demographics of the market and whether they suggest an ability to support an NHL franchise; and, three, whether there is qualified and interested ownership to own and operate the franchise.
“While the Sprint Center certainly checks off the first of those boxes, the other two issues remain a work in progress.”
When the NHL began the expansion process in 2015 that led to the Vegas Golden Knights joining the league, it did not receive an application from Kansas City. According to Caldwell, Hunt Jr. wasn’t happy that the expansion fee was $500 million.
“Our analysis is that we really have to grow the youth programs here,” Hunt Jr. said according to Caldwell. “We have to have more sheets of ice.
“It wouldn’t just be a franchise,” Hunt Jr. added. “There would be a lot more that would go into it, and it would be a challenge for this community.”
Kansas City has had an NHL team in the past. The Kansas City Scouts competed for two seasons from 1974-76. The franchise then moved to Denver to become the Colorado Rockies, and again moved in 1982 to become the current New Jersey Devils.