I recently saw my first event at the new Sprint Center and left with three strong impressions.
- The glitz of the computer graphics, the exterior of the building and the showmanship were spectacular.
- A rotating advertising sign in front of the scorer’s table is a standard feature in all new arenas, but the one in the Sprint Center is very annoying because it constantly spins instead of every four to five minutes as in other arenas. The advertisers are paying big money for signs that are annoying and distract from the event.
- The quality of the building materials appeared to be far below what is normally used in public buildings. The interior walls are drywall and paint. Repairs will be weekly if the building is to remain attractive. The dividers on the handrails for the stairways are made of clear plastic and will be scratched and unattractive within months.
The Sprint Center must be the only public building built in the past 15 years with manual instead of automatic flush valves on the urinals. Within months, handles will be missing and they will not flush. If I spotted these three things in one trip, there must be hundreds more shortcuts that will cost the city huge maintenance and repair bills very soon.
This is what can be expected when the city turns over money to an out-of-town contractor with no local ties. When J.E. Dunn built Kemper Arena and ran over the budget, it found ways to get in the basics with good quality. I remember them donating the concrete stairways on the four corners of the building to keep in the budget.