When local hockey fans show up Saturday for the Kansas City Mavericks Fan Fest at Silverstein Eye Centers Arena in Independence, they'll notice the work going on outside the southeast corner of the building.
When the home games start in October, they'll likely notice a couple things inside the arena, as well.
Crews have started work on a concrete and brick party patio measuring 60-by-66 feet, with a short fence surrounding it, that is scheduled to be completed by Oct. 2. The Mavericks' home opener is Oct. 12.
Inside, the 10-year-old arena will have a new LED lighting system and guest access Wi-Fi throughout the building.
They're all part of a series of arena upgrades or replacements – $1.05 worth – approved last month by the Independence City Council. Funds come from the three-quarter-cent sales tax in the Events Center Community Improvement District. The party patio and fence will cost $60,000, the LED lighting and $460,000 and Wi-Fi $350,000.
Besides the Mavericks as anchor tenant, the arena also has the Kansas City Comets (soccer) and Phantoms (football) as tenants and hosts of a series of concerts and special events throughout the year.
“That building has been very successful over the last decade,” City Manager Zach Walker said. “As with any facility, after a little while it begins to show age. The competition for people's disposable income is very high, and we need to make sure we're keeping this building in premier shape so that it continues to be fun, friendly, but also competitive from an economic standpoint.”
The LED lighting will be from Eaton Ephesus Lighting, which has done lighting projects in stadiums and arenas across the country. It will allow for color changes, promising to enhance spectators’ game or event experience, and also have better glare control for players, spectators and broadcast events.
In addition to being more efficient than the previous halogen lights, the LED lights also will cut down on energy costs – producing less heat and thus requiring less air conditioning to keep the ice rinks frozen.
Allegiant Technology from Overland Park will provide and install the Wi-Fi network, which will be capable of handling 9,000 users allow guests a single sign-in over a 24-hour period.
The current Wi-Fi setup requires guests to log onto the network using a pre-shared key provided by an arena staff member.
“These are improvements we're trying to make to keep the building fresh, attractive to tenants and people that want to come and visit,” Walker said. “Treat it as tourism asset.”
“Since it opened up 10 years ago, we haven't really done much to that place,” Council Member Curt Dougherty said. “Look how much technology has changed.”