Sprint Center Celebrates 10 Years in Kansas City
A look back at the makings of Kansas City's crown jewel.
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IT'S ABOUT SAFETY & HOSPITALITY
Thousands of people who don’t know the story behind Sprint Center or understand the economic impact it’s had on Kansas City and the surrounding metropolitan area over the last decade. For so many people, the venue is about one thing: entertainment.
When Sprint Center is at capacity – somewhere between approximately 15,000 and 19,533, depending on the event production – that translates to a whole lot of people with big expectations. Fortunately, Tinnen knows what she’s doing.
She emphasizes hospitality – that’s been one of the hallmarks of her illustrious career.
“The number one thing is to hire the right people,” she says. “You have to hire people that are friendly and approachable and want to be a part of the process. My view of Sprint Center is this is our house, and when we open the doors, we are inviting our guests into our house. If we’re having a party at our own home, that’s how we’re treating the guests that we’re greeting at the door.”
If Tinnen runs her home anything like she runs Sprint Center, her guests will want for nothing. The flow of people is specifically routed to maximize the space, with staffers – uniformed in bumblebee yellow Oxfords – directing guests to wherever they need to be. A significant portion of Sprint Center’s approximately 600 full- and part-time employees have been with the arena since day one, Tinnen adds.
“I feel that there’s a lot of pride in what we’ve been able to accomplish with this team,” she says. “I always say that the desire and the passion to do something great is 98 percent of what you need for the job – the other two percent, I can teach you. Because what we do is simple: We just want people to have a great time at the event that they’re here for.”
Part of having a great time means ensuring that Sprint Center guests are safe. That’s something Tinnen has been concerned with from the beginning – and it’s her you can thank for the magnetometer sensors that have been affixed to every single door in and out of Sprint Center since it opened. Ten years ago, such a security measure was considered gratuitous, and Tinnen chuckles remembering how some believed there would be longer lines as a result.
alicia keys performing at the sprint center
“Absolutely everyone adheres to our security policies,” Tinnen says. “We don’t allow backpacks, we’ve tightened on things that you can and cannot bring into the building – and that’s with everyone, with athletes and coaches and artists. Sometimes they might resent it, but I want everyone to know that I walk through the magnetometer every morning. I take out my credentials and the security guard looks through the contents of my purse. That’s what we all do – there are no exceptions.”
Tinnen’s safety measures go beyond the walls of Sprint Center, too, as anyone who has come pouring out of the doors and onto Grand Boulevard has noticed. An hour before every show, the blocks surrounding Sprint Center are closed off so that cars aren’t impeding the foot traffic to and from the arena. Tinnen and other Sprint Center leadership work closely with the Kansas City Police and Fire Departments, holding regular meetings. For her, and for the rest of her team at Sprint Center, the work is never over.
“We’re never at the finish line,” she says. “We want to continue to improve everything that we can at the facility. We have been and will continue to be competitive in terms of getting A-list events here in Kansas City and at Sprint Center. We’re ten years in, but now is not the time to rest on our laurels.”
Tinnen adds, that there’s an “overwhelming feeling” that occurs at Sprint Center. “It’s emotional. It’s personal. People really feel like the building belongs to them.
A TYPICAL EVENT DAY AT SPRINT CENTER
7:30 a.m. – Event manager and the tour bus arrive.
8:00 a.m. – Stagehands and crew arrive to mark the arena floor. Typically, the touring artist or band provides the stage, barricade and risers needed to make the show all it can be.
9:00 a.m. – The catering crew arrives. The stage load-in begins in the marshaling area and loading docks. An EMT is present for load-in and load-out.
3:00 p.m. – Chair setup begins on the arena floor and set arena floor. All seating aisles are required to be 6-feet wide throughout, with no more than 12 seats per row and no more than 12 rows per section.
4:00 p.m. – The executive staff has an on-site security meeting.
5:10 p.m. – Artist sound check begins.
6:00 p.m. – Grand Street closes and the VIP Party check-in begins. VIP has a different meaning for each concert. It can mean fans get early entry to the venue, attend a meet ‘n’ greet with the artist before their set or attend a special party prior or post show.
7:00 p.m. – Ticket prices are set by the artist/event and can range from $10 to $2500+ (OR MORE!) for a VIP package that could include amenities like early entry, a chance to meet the artist or attend a special party prior or post show.
8:30 p.m. – The opening act takes the stage.
9:00 p.m. – If the bill features two opening acts the second one goes on after a quick set change.
9:50 p.m. – The headliner takes the stage.
11:28 p.m. – The set ends and the artist or band leaves the stage/building.
2:48 a.m. – Load-out ends.