When people think of pro sports in Kansas City, Chiefs football typically comes to mind first, followed by Royals baseball. In December 2013, the pro soccer club Sporting Kansas City captured Major League Soccer’s championship by defeating Real Salt Lake after ten rounds of penalty kicks. Then there are plenty of college games in nearby Lawrence, Kansas (Kansas Jayhawks) and Manhattan, Kansas (Kansas State Wildcats).
So it is easy for a hockey team to get lost in the Western Missouri sports landscape. But there is a relatively new and up and coming team on the east side of the Kansas City metro area (Independence to be exact) which is making an impression on the sports scene and it is sure to please new visitors.
The Missouri Mavericks entered the Central Hockey League in 2009 and have called the new Independence Events Center their home since day one. The team struggled a bit in its first season, but seems to have gained traction in recent years, increasing attendance each season and leading the league in this category from 2009-2013.
In the inaugural 2009-10 season, the team drew an average attendance of 4,935. In five years with increases each season, the club is averaging 5,571 in 2013-2014, over 750 more than 2nd place Wichita. If the Mavericks were members of the ECHL, their average attendance would be fifth place in the 22-team league.
In a city that has seen pro hockey come and go, including a two-year stay by the NHL in the form of the Scouts, this franchise seems to be a lasting one. They are doing all the right things to establish a brand with unique qualities and right-priced entertainment. And judging from their sustained growth in their first five years, one must wonder if advancing to the next rung of minor pro hockey, be it the ECHL or even AHL, can be far behind.
The FANFARE scale is our metric device for rating each stadium experience. It covers the following:
Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".
Like most venues, after a few years, they find their way by introducing new local items and unique offerings. Prices are fairly set and add to the value of attending a Mavericks game.
There are two unique things worth getting at the Independence Events Center.
The first is a Burnt Ends Sub with kettle chips for $9.50. Burnt ends are tasty pieces of meat which have been cut from points half of smoked brisket. You can also get a Mighty "Mo" Dog, a jumbo hot dog with chili, cheese, onion, sour cream, and corn chips for $7. Both are mighty fine.
As for beverages, Pepsi items are sold here. Small soda, regular and souvenir with refills are $3.50, $4.50 and $6 with each refill just $1. Bottled soda is $4 and bottled water is $3.50.
There is much variety in beer including Budweiser products. Draft beer is $7.50 for regular, $8.50 for a premium brew. As for having your beer in a larger, souvenir cup, the price is $10 for draft and $11 for premium. Consider the local Kansas City brewer, Boulevard, for your selection.
As for other eats, finer dining than a concession stand setting can be found at Zarda BBQ & Catering Company. The open area involves high tables and chairs along with a selection of barbeque including pulled pork and rib plates.
The concourse area also includes dozens of temporary locations offering pretzels, kettle corn, ice cream, mini melts, snow cones, cotton candy, mixed drinks, and tropical adult drinks.
On select nights, happy hour prices are in affect for certain items. For instance, a small draft beer is $2.50, small soda is $1.50 and hot dogs are $2.
Because the concourse narrows in the corners, line traffic seems to back up in the walkways providing a bit of a challenge and congesting the intended thoroughfares. Another reason for the congestion might involve the monitors high above the walkways feeding timely information on the game about to start and details on the home team's players.
Among the minor league venues and the overall experience, this is certainly among the top 20 of the 200 I have visited. It is almost as if they sense there is a higher level of hockey to be gained by advancing into the ECHL or AHL since an NHL franchise in Kansas City seems to be a long shot.
Fans typically arrive early and pack the place as evidenced with their strong attendance numbers and how they have embraced the Mavericks' brand with the bright orange and light blue.
When you arrive, be sure to enter the main gate on the east side of the arena. When facing this entrance, the pro shop is to your right and the box office to your left. This also seems to be where most of the giveaways are stocked.
As for choosing where to sit and ticket prices, consider the following layout. The east side of the rink, sections 110-111, is where the Mavericks shoot twice. The west side of the rink, section 100, is where the Mavericks defend twice. This area is pretty open near the ice for zamboni access and seats here begin higher than they do at the east end behind the goal.
The home team bench is directly in front of section 116 while the visitors occupy the area in front of section 115. Penalty boxes are in front of 105 (home team) and 106 (visiting team).
Regular single ticket prices for Mavericks games range in price from $16 at the high ends behind the goals to $38 along the glass surrounding the entire surface regardless of vantage point. While these prices are a little high for typical CHL action, you get what you pay for here.
For my money, I like section 108, in the southeast corner of the rink, up high, facing both benches at an angle and where the home team shoots twice. At $19 for a single ticket, it is the best value in the arena.
As for the seating area, there is excellent pitch in the rows, 16 of them in the venue from first row to last row. With your back facing the ice, the seating is numbered from left to right, not necessarily common in venues, but stated here so you know how the numbering affects your positioning in a row. You would not want to have a row to your left in section 108 and be bobbing your head to see the on-ice action also to your left because of foot traffic.
Aisles are wide and seats are comfortably padded with cup holders down below and in front of each seat. Concourse width is narrower than I expected at the longer sides of the rink, but opens up nicely in the corner and on the East end. Keep in mind, before the game when fans are entering, the east end is jammed full of people. Once the game begins, things are less cluttered.
If you are lucky to get a suite level seat, which can also be a seat at that level, but not inside a room, you have quite a bit more freedom to move around and have a few more comforts. This level is less populated allowing for more convenient concessions and less crowded restroom. The area is restricted, however, to fans with tickets on this level only. Several stairwells and elevators provide access to this level.
Entering the main seating bowl is a little different than I have seen before. From the main concourse, accessing your seats involves travelling up eleven stairs in most sections and then either walking down steps to your row or turning to your right or left and then walking up seats. This is merely how the venue was built, but it surprised me the rink was not sunk deeper into the ground and is actually at concourse level.
Once in your seat, you will notice one major omission from most indoor minor league facilities. It is the absence of a center-hung scoreboard over the ice. Here the scoreboards are on the ends high above the suite level and the video replay boards are on the sides high above the seating areas.
I like this set-up as it makes the venue much more wide open than a large piece of equipment hanging low above the ice in such a small venue. An electronic ribbon board encircling the venue can be found above the suite level to accent the promotions and game details.
During the game you will enjoy the nice mix of popular canned music and organ music, but if there is one thing I would recommend to change, it would be the volume. There is something to be said for the right way to play music and at least on this night, it was way too loud.
As with most minor league venues, promotions to generate interest in fans showing up early and engaged during the game are plentiful. On the Friday night I attended, fans were anxious to get their hands on a Sebastien Thinel bobble head.
To add to the experience, the Mavericks have a cheerleading group known as the Filly Spirit Squad. They are involved in the promotions alongside team mascots Mac 'n' Cheez. As a family entertainment source, these groups are appropriately attired and add value to the experience.
The Independence Events Center is in the suburbs of the Kansas City metro area, about 13 miles east of downtown. Highway 70 is the major highway which connects Kansas City and St. Louis to the east.
There are a number of chain restaurants and a mall complex, Independence Center, across Highway 70, but to get a taste of Kansas City, you will have to travel away from the arena.
Garozzo's, an Italian restaurant in Kansas City for 25 years come April 2014, serves some of the finest pasta I have ever enjoyed. Of their five locations, choose the downtown location at 526 Harrison Street. Order the chicken spiedini or, if you are really hungry, three way pasta. After your visit you will be adding me to your last will and testament. It's really that good.
If barbeque is on your mind, I have two choices for you.
The first is world-renown Arthur Bryant's. While there are three locations, choose the downtown location at 1727 Brooklyn Avenue. Founded in the 1920s, this will end up being another reason why you will put me in your will. Choose the burnt ends with fries, order a side of bread and wash it all down with lemonade.
Finally, another barbeque place is actually inside a Shamrock gas station. Oklahoma Joe's has three locations, but you must go to the original location at 3002 West 47th Avenue. Since 1997, two friends who competed in and began winning barbeque contests beginning in 1990, bought Oklahoma Joe's and have been running it ever since. While there, order the ribs with sides of BBQ beans and dirty rice. The pulled pork and beef brisket are good, too.
Lastly in the eats department, if you want to dine at a unique sports-themed restaurant, consider Chappell's. Operating since 1986, this original restaurant has some of the finest sports memorabilia you could ever imagine. Great food and drinks, but the atmosphere and decor are why you want to come here. It is located at 323 Armour Road in North Kansas City.
After or before you are done eating, be sure to take a free tour of the Hallmark Company in downtown Kansas City. The World War I Museum is magnificent, a real tribute to those who fought and died in our country's first major military conflict of the 20th century. This is also downtown.
Lastly, consider heading to Kansas City's Power and Light District, a collection of restaurants, bars and entertainment options. This is part of a major resurgence in the city and is home of the Sprint Center, a world-class venue without a major sport tenant making more money booking concerts and other events.
Independence is mostly known as the home of the United States 33rd President, Harry Truman. There are several museums and sites honoring this President in the city that are very worthwhile checking out when in town.
If time permits, do visit the Harry Truman Library & Museum. There is a #33 Truman banner hanging from the rafters at the arena - nicely done in honor of this US President.
White Kansas City has never been known as a hockey hot bed, the locals appreciate good entertainment value when they see it. It is also clear they embrace their team and in particular, the team colors of bright orange and light blue. It is a key element in establishing their brand. At the east end of the seating bowl, the Home of the Orange Army is vividly established.
Fans have their favorite players and while they understandably enjoy the odd tussle, they also seem to understand the game enough to understand the rules well and enjoy the speed of the action. If you are new to travelling to the Midwest, you will find the people of Kansas City warm and hospitable.
The Independence Events Center is located about 13 miles east of downtown Kansas City. It is visible alongside the south edge of Highway 70. It is located near the intersection of Highway 70 and route 291 in the southeastern corner of the clover leafs. If you are heading on Highway 70 westbound to the arena, take exit 15A.
If heading eastbound from downtown Kansas City, take exit 15B, but just know it will take you a series of three cloverleaf trips to eventually head southbound on route 291 to get to the arena.
Once you are headed toward the arena from this interchange, you will meander back through some retail and office buildings to make your way to the parking which is FREE to everyone.
You will find the parking areas to the east of the arena and south of the arena. There is overflow parking to the extreme south of the arena as well. If you have to walk too far, wait awhile for the complimentary golf cart shuttle.
Mass transit is not an option to the arena as there is no light rail and few buses which conveniently travel to this area.
Once inside, the u-shaped concourse (you cannot walk around the entire arena in the main concourse as the west end of the ice is blocked to foot traffic), you will find the straight-aways a little narrower than most venues, but the ends and corners a little wider. In fact, the corners are the best place to stand and visit with friends as there is plenty of space and many high tables to set your food and drinks.
Restrooms are clean and plentiful with no crowd issues even during the most packed nights.
While the free parking is a nice touch, you might be a little shocked at the ticket prices. They might be a little high for what you get even though attending a Mavericks game is tops among CHL franchises. I expected tickets to be about 30% less with an opening price point of under $10 at least for some tickets. Still, the best bet is to scour the team website for ticket promotions as I suspect few fans pay regular single ticket prices.
Still, consider the food prices are a value and collectively the package is a good value when you consider the free program, tickets at a modern venue to witness a competitive sports event.
Program quality is a little weak in the sense the same issue appears through a given month. It is newsprint quality which is fine, but I wondered why an insert with both team's rosters with updated statistics was not included. It would not take much.
Merchandise options are plentiful and the Mavericks have been highly effective in establishing their brand. There are nightly deals on specific items and by the time you depart the arena, you will likely find yourself picking up something bright orange, light blue or both before the night is done. Their jersey designs might be the best in all of the CHL.
Special attention is given to children and the activities aligned with the team mascots, Mac 'n' Cheez. Additionally, you will find a plethora of sponsor tables along the main concourse. It's almost too much. I get the team might be selling space to sponsors, but wonder if there should be limits on how many display and offer samples. There would be more concourse space if limits were applied.
The Mavericks are effective in their promotions, drawing fans with giveaways for bobbleheads, and jerseys as well as concerts and special performers.
Lastly, the team is highly effective in their use of social media and a comprehensive website which offers everything you could ask for as a source for information. A visit there to plan your trip and examine all they have to offer will satisfy you before seeing the Mavericks play.
The venue is not quite as slick as the new one in Wichita; nor does it have the history of the Coliseum in Denver, yet it is a fantastic place in which to watch the Central Hockey League’s Missouri Mavericks. It is also home to the Missouri Comets of the Major Indoor Soccer League, as well as concerts and other events. A nice feature of the venue is the adjoining Community Ice Center – a year round ice center for public skating, lessons, and parties.
The Mavericks began play in the 2009–10 season and has established itself as a fan-favorite team in the Kansas City suburb of Independence.
Attended at the last minute and was surprised at the turnout. Nearly a full house. Lucked out with a cheap ticket outside, which included a free hot dog. Fans are energetic but still learning the game. Only a few miles from the stadium complex in KC, so check for a DH possibility if the Chiefs are home. Had no problem getting out of the lot. Good mascot and promotions and it's no surprise to see banners celebrating three straight seasons as the franchise of the year. A hidden gem.
19801 East Valley View Parkway
Independence, MO 64057
1727 Brooklyn Ave
Kansas City, MO 64127
3002 W 47th Ave
Kansas City, MO 66103
500 W US Highway 24
Independence, MO 64050
2501 McGee St
Kansas City, MO 64108
19901 E Valley View Pkwy
Independence, MO 64057
19751 E Valley View Pkwy
Independence, MO 94057