Saturday, October 13, 2007

Birth of a Landmark, Death of a Lawn

Summer has been hard on the O. household. Not on the O's themselves, mind you -- just on the house. Since June, the kitchen faucet has been replaced, the downstairs toilet has been reinstalled, the deck has been sanded and permanently sealed, copious amounts of rotted window trim and sill have been removed, and a settlement for the defective Masonite hardboard siding was reached. After surviving those calamities, we now get this:

That, in case you are wondering, is what white grubs can do to a lawn. About half of the back yard, half of the yard on the north side of the house, and a quarter of the lawn on the south side are in such condition, and are a total loss. The dead turf will have to be ripped up and the underlying dirt reseeded. Luckily, other than a few patches, the front lawn is relatively intact. Needless to say, Em and I are both ready for things to stop breaking/rotting/dying.

But with death comes rebirth, and while the yard may be gone, downtown Kansas City is making a comeback. After two years of construction, the long awaited Sprint Center is now complete. The city's newest landmark officially opens tonight with an Elton John concert, but its unveiling occurred last Wednesday, when the doors were thrown open and Kansas Citians were given an opportunity to see what their tax dollars had bought. As I work within walking distance of the new arena, I wandered over during lunch, and took a few photos.

In addition to hosting concerts and sporting events, the arena is also home to the College Basketball Experience & National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame , which looks like it will be sufficiently fun and interactive to lure some basketball-loving former roommates to KC for a visit.

From the inside, the arena offers sunlit concourses and 360 degree views of the city; I was impressed with how this connects it to its surroundings.

The seating bowl and arena floor itself are about what you'd expect, with comfortable seating and good sight lines for about 19,000 people, a state-of-the-art high definition scoreboard and ribbon board, and a very loud sound system. The ice hockey configuration was a bit of wishful thinking on the part of the city (though there's still hope of stealing the Nashville Predators for the 2008-2009 NHL season); later in the day, the floor was reconfigured for basketball, and later still, for a concert.

And, perhaps most exciting of all, there's this

Yes, it does charge normal QuikTrip prices. No, it does not have a soda fountain, chips or hot dogs (only frozen drinks, doughnuts, cookies and sandwiches).

Needless to say, I'm excited to attend an event at the Sprint Center, though now that it's complete, I'll miss being able to check on the progress of its construction. But that's okay -- I've already picked the next downtown project that I can track obsessively. Behold the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts!