Hailed as a cornerstone of downtown KC’s revival, Sprint Center celebrates 10th anniversary

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Kansas City’s Sprint Center is celebrating a big milestone: its 10th anniversary. The center is credited with spurring a major renaissance downtown.

It’s hard to remember what downtown Kansas City even looked like before the Sprint Center.

“I’ve been a realtor for 45 years and I’ve seen the expansion. The slowness, then the expansion coming back and the places to eat downtown, things to do, grocery store around the corner, the museum right here—basketball museum and hall of fame, and it’s just terrific,” said Jim Jay of Overland Park.

Sprint Center is credited with fueling a huge boom. After it opened in October 2007, the Power & Light District followed.

“I tell people all the time this is a perfect venue, set up, entertainment district, the whole nine yards. It’s fantastic,” said Kyle Witherspoon with Johnny’s Tavern.

A decade ago, barely 5,000 people called downtown home. Now there are more than 22,000 people living downtown, and that number is expected to potentially double within the next five years. It’s helping support all the A-list events Sprint Center’s bringing in and allowing local businesses to thrive.

“I can only see that grow and continue to expand as more people move down here. I think it’s going to be fantastic,” said Witherspoon.

Sprint Center even had a study done which found since 2007, the facility has welcomed 11 million visitors and contributed over $1.01 billion in economic activity and has supported nearly 1,000 jobs a year (direct and indirect).

“We’ve just got to go higher from here. We’re planning some big announcements in the next few weeks and we just continue to look for ways to keep relevant and keep the big events to want to come to Kansas City and that starts with passion and enthusiasm of all the people that do attend our events and that’s what makes artists and the conferences want to hold their events in Kansas City,” said Brenda Tinnen, Sprint Center vice president and general manager.

The city is marking that success by proclaiming October 12 “Sprint Center Day”. While no one knows exactly what the future holds, Tinnen says there are a lot of reasons to think the next decade will be even better than the first.

“We will always be out there looking under every rock and looking and trying to find what the latest, greatest trends are and hope that we can attract them to Kansas City and to Sprint Center,” said Tinnen.

Just as another sign of its success, Sprint Center announced Thursday it will raise the minimum wage for all its employees to $12/hour starting in 2018.

Read more here from Sprint Center about the successes its celebrating.