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What We Know So Far About How Kansas City Will Change Now That Sprint Is No Longer Sprint

Peggy Lowe
KCUR 89.3
The Sprint store in the newly-renovated headquarters building on the Sprint campus in Overland Park. The building will now be called "HQ2" because T-Mobile's headquarters are in Seattle.

More than a year after announcing the proposed $26 billion deal, Sprint and T-Mobile won final federal clearance on Friday when the U.S. Department of Justice announced it had settled anti-trust concerns.

The combined company will be called “the New T-Mobile.”

“This is an important day for our country and, most important, American consumers and businesses,” said Sprint Executive Chairman Marcelo Claure.

To get the approval, Sprint had to sell a sizeable chunk of its business to Dish Network — some $5 billion worth of spectrum and its pre-paid businesses, Boost Mobile and Virgin Mobile.

T-Mobile and Sprint must also “make available” to Dish at least 20,000 cell sites and hundreds of retail stores, along with access to the T-Mobile network for seven years as Dish builds out its own 5G network.

Consumer groups, along with rural wireless providers, have long fought the merger, saying it would limit competition, drive up prices and hurt most low-income consumers. Meanwhile, a lawsuit filed in June by 14 state attorneys general intended to block the merger is pending.

Assuming that lawsuit doesn't stop the deal, here's what we know — so far — about how Kansas City will change.

1. The Sprint campus

Earlier this month, Occidental Management Inc., a Wichita, Kansas, commercial real estate company, announced it had bought the Sprint headquarters in Overland Park and that Sprint will lease back buildings.

When Sprint built the 20-building, 190-acre campus 20 years ago, the company employed 26,000 people. Now Sprint has just 6,000 employees here, who will work in five buildings.

One building has been remodeled, changing it from what looked like a bank into a more wide open, start-up environment. It will be called “HQ2,” since the New T-Mobile’s headquarters are in Seattle.

Credit Peggy Lowe / KCUR 89.3
KCUR 89.3
The Sprint Center is the anchor of the Power & Light District in downtown Kansas City.

2. The Sprint Center

The 19,000-capacity arena in downtown Kansas City is managed by AEG, the Anschutz Entertainment Group, under a 35-year agreement with the city. When it was built in 2007, Sprint signed a 25-year contract for the naming rights.

What the Sprint Center’s new name will be has not been announced.

Brenda Tinnen, Sprint Center’s general manager and senior vice president, said this week that AEG has had a “visionary and meaningful relationship with Sprint” and “any changes to our long-term contract including the venue’s name would be contemplated by a newly configured ownership group.”

3. The Kansas City Streetcar

Kansas City’s popular mode of downtown public transportation might keep those big, bright yellow Sprint logos for a while, as well as the free wireless onboard, thanks to Sprint's sponsorship.

“Our agreement with Sprint runs through the end of the year and we are proceeding as is,” said Tom Gerend, executive director of the Kansas City Streetcar Authority. “We anticipate no change to downtown wi-fi coverage.”

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly characterized the Sprint Center's ownership. The city of Kansas City owns the Sprint Center and it is managed by AEG.

KCUR's Peggy Lowe is a correspondent for Marketplace and does investigative projects with APM Reports. She’s on Twitter @peggyllowe.

I’m a veteran investigative reporter who came up through newspapers and moved to public media. I want to give people a better understanding of the criminal justice system by focusing on its deeper issues, like institutional racism, the poverty-to-prison pipeline and police accountability. Today this beat is much different from how reporters worked it in the past. I’m telling stories about people who are building significant civil rights movements and redefining public safety. Email me at lowep@kcur.org.
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