Sprint Center Celebrates 10 Years in Kansas City
A look back at the makings of Kansas City's crown jewel.
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Michael Chalfie, VP, Event Services & Operations
Best part of your job? I sold life insurance as my first job out of college. When I made the switch to live events (sporting events or concerts), I have really enjoyed that we sell excitement and happiness. You walk through the crowd during a sold-out show and watch people’s faces. It is pretty special.
Favorite Sprint Center performance in the past 10 years? Opening night with Elton John, then Paul McCartney’s second show at Sprint Center.
Most surprising thing that’s happened to you? That some of my staff has been around since the building opened. They are so important and they take ownership and are committed to continued success. They passed on other opportunities and have been here through the hard but great times.
One thing all your friends ask you? Do you meet the artist? Do you really need to separate the colors of the M&M’s for artists? What is the craziest thing an artist has requested?
Best seat in the house? For sporting events, I want to be very close. Any seat works for concerts as long as the sound guy is good.
What’s one thing about Sprint Center that would surprise people? Most people are totally intrigued with the conversion process. How do you make ice? How does it work with dirt, then basketball, then ice, then concerts? We actually make the ice right on the concrete floor, as there is a complete cooling system below the floor.
Deb Ward, VP, Administration
Best part of your job? Event days. There is an air of excitement in the building all day. Daily assignments are set aside for the day and everyone’s focus is on the artist or show. These days are busy and long but very rewarding.
Favorite Sprint Center performance in the past 10 years? This is an easy one! I have been fortunate to see some amazing artists, but Carole King and James Taylor, May 21, 2010, was my favorite concert EVER … hands down.
Most surprising thing that’s happened to you? I am most surprised how my music preference has evolved in the last 10 years. I have been exposed to many different genres that I would have previously ignored. My grandchildren think it’s cool to listen to music with me.
One thing all your friends ask you? Do you get to meet the artists? On occasion I will have an opportunity to meet an artist, but under normal circumstances, the answer is no.
Best seat in the house? The one that you are sitting in. The seat where you are moved to tears, cannot stop singing or where you never even actually sit. This is the same seat where you witness the look of awe on a child’s face or make a moment of truth that will last a lifetime.
What’s one thing that would surprise people? We work in an all-glass building and I don’t believe that a single office in here has a window.
Brenda Tinnen, General Manager/ Sr. Vice President
Best part of your job? It’s all of the people I have the honor to work with each and every day. Sprint Center has a great staff from front of house to back of house. Everyone truly has so much pride and passion not only for this building, but for all of Kansas City. We all strive to be the best we can be as “ladies and gentlemen” and good citizens of Kansas City, with all the wow factor we can add. Also the fact that Sprint Center is a public/private partnership allows me to work closely with the mayor, city manager and city council, as well as my good friends at VisitKC and the Kansas City Sports Commission. The cherry on top is when we open doors for a show and see the faces of the guests as they enter the building to enjoy their favorite artist, team or show or whatever – they are always enthusiastic, passionate, with smiles all around.
Most surprising thing that’s happened to you? It always does surprise me when people recognize me, either inside or outside of Sprint Center. Everyone is always so nice to thank me for bringing their favorite artist or show to KC. Or someone will share a memory of an event with me. Do not get me wrong, I appreciate the attention and the accolades. However, if not for the great Kansas City culture and fantastic fans, the shows would take a pass on us. So I say, “thank you” to all of our great supporters and “keep it up.”
Favorite Sprint Center performance in the past 10 years? My favorite moment/performance was the ribbon cutting ceremony on Oct. 10 at 10:10 a.m. with the Kansas City Philharmonic on Barnes Plaza. It was thrilling to have so many citizens of KC and the region attend. Garth Brooks was in attendance to assist in the ribbon cutting. Then we opened the doors for an open house – Kansas City’s first look through Sprint Center – as our changeover crew changed out the facility from ice hockey to basketball. More than 25,000 people came through our new home for entertainment on that day. Many sat in the seats and stayed a while and asked our staff many questions. Sprint Center was the attraction and opened to great reviews from our most important constituents – our guests.
One thing all your friends ask you? Do you attend every event? The answer is, I am onsite for the majority of the events at Sprint Center. Sometimes, I think I will stay for just a bit of the show and then leave a little early. Then the show just sucks me right back in to the end when the houselights come up.
shani tate ross
Best part of your job? Witnessing connections and memories being made in real time right before my eyes—artists connecting with fans, friends and families sharing experiences that transcend generations and last a lifetime.
Favorite Sprint Center performance in the past 10 years? One favorite performance is impossible, so my top four are the legendary Tina Turner during the launch of her North American Tour in 2008, Sade’s elegant and timeless performance in 2011, Justin Timberlake’s two exhilarating shows in 2014 and Bruno Mars, anywhere and everywhere.
Most surprising thing that’s happened to you? Watching both guests and staff from diverse backgrounds and experiences put aside their preconceived ideas, opinions and prejudices to be united in shared euphoria for a singular moment in time by their favorite artist or group.
Best seat in the house? As a 5’11” former dancer and aspiring karaoke singer, I am partial to aisle seats to minimize disruptions or encumbrances in the event of an impromptu personal performance.
What’s one thing about Sprint Center that would surprise people? More than 40 percent of current associates have been employed at Sprint Center since opening in 2007.
To learn more, visit sprintcenter.com.