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R.I.P. Sprint Center. Kansas City’s Downtown Arena Is Now The T-Mobile Center

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Carlos Moreno
KCUR 89.3
The facility formerly known as the Sprint Center was officially re-christened as the T-Mobile Center on Thursday following the merger of the two wireless companies last April.

Although expected since April, the move marks a new era in one of downtown’s largest attractions.

The Sprint Center was rebranded the T-Mobile Center on Thursday, laying to rest the inaugural name of downtown Kansas City’s arena after 13 years.

The move has been expected since the $26 billion Sprint-T-Mobile merger was announced in April. The announcement was more press release than presentation, as new signage isn’t expected until August.

T-Mobile, which will own the naming rights until 2032, promised special perks for its customers, like a “fast pass” entry on the corner of 13th Street and Grand Boulevard, and “upgrades for everyone in the coming years.”

The $300 million Sprint Center was a successful arena, despite not having a connection to a major league sports team, and it was profitable for Kansas City, which owns it. In 2011, Pollstar magazine ranked it as America's fifth-busiest arena and No. 13 among worldwide venues. The arena seats 19,000 people and has 72 suites.

T-Mobile CEO Mike Sievert said that when it’s safe to re-open the arena, which has been closed during the pandemic, the company would bring some incredible experiences.

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Courtesy T-Mobile
An artist's rendering of how the new T-Mobile Center will look.

“Kansas City has a rich culture, known for live entertainment, sports, a thriving arts scene and my personal favorite, Kansas City BBQ, and we are honored to help bring it all to life in T-Mobile Center well into the next decade!” Sievert said. ”Get ready for a good time!”

The news wasn’t viewed as warmly from many on social media, with some locals vowing to always call the arena by its original name. Michelle Lee commented that she will always call all local venues by their first names.

“Sandstone will forever be Sandstone. Kemper will forever be Kemper,” she wrote. “So I don’t care how many mergers and buyouts occur, Sprint Center will forever be Sprint Center.”

Sandstone is now Providence Medical Center Amphitheater and Kemper is now Hy-Vee Arena.

The company’s other naming rights include T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, T-Mobile Park in Seattle and Distrito T-Mobile in Puerto Rico.

The Sprint logo will also be removed from downtown streetcars in August, said Donna Mandelbaum, a KC Streetcar Authority spokeswoman. After that, the KC Streetcar will still provide free onboard WiFi through the RideKC WiFi network, she said.

"We are looking forward to future sponsorships and partnerships of the KC Streetcar vehicles and will be seeking proposals later this year," Mandelbaum said.

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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