This is your Independence Events Center.

This is your Independence Events Center.

Independence officials aim for residents to feel at home when they attend sporting events and concerts at the city’s first arena. The Independence City Council wanted the events center, which opens one week from today, to feel approachable and comfortable “like a family room in your house, only with community,” City Manager Robert Heacock said.

“We wanted to reflect Independence values. It really is a way to change the way the outside views our community,” Heacock said of the events center, which is built near the intersection of interstates 70 and 470. “All tied together, we tried to make sure it was done the right way.”

The Denver-based Sink Combs Dethlefs served as the arena’s architect. The company’s chief executive officer, Don Dethlefs, said the company aimed to create function and an overall traditional appearance with its design. 

The arena features a 360-degree bowl shape, Dethlefs said, but spectators will circulate about three-fourths around. Because the arena is located on one level except for its suite levels, the design effect is a longer, narrower building that’s easier to maneuver, he said.

“It becomes a very cost-effective design so that when you walk in, you can see the arena’s activity,” Dethlefs said. “The size of the building allows you to easily get to your seat. I think people will feel close to the action, which is part of the goal.”

Compared to Kansas City’s Kemper Arena and the Sprint Center, which each hold about 18,000 people at capacity, the Independence Events Center can hold up to 7,800 seats for a concert, and a little less than 6,000 for a hockey game. Dethlefs, whose company focuses on stadium, arena and recreation center design, said smaller arenas are a trend in smaller cities that want to attract larger events and in suburban areas like Independence whose residents don’t always want to travel downtown for sporting and concert events.

He said the concert business also is changing because sell-out musical acts are becoming more rare as time passes.

“Instead of having a building half-filled, the building is totally filled and everyone has a good time,” Dethlefs said of the smaller arenas.

The Independence Events Center’s overall image also played a role in deciding on its architecture. Heacock said the city wanted a timeless design.

“I hope it’s just as comfortable 20 to 30 years from now,” he said.

Because of its visibility on I-70, Dethlefs said the architects originally proposed a more contemporary design. After listening to the city’s wants and needs, the company designed a more traditional look without too much of a historical element, Dethlefs said. 

“We took that as our emphasis and built on that with what I would call a transitional look – it has some traditional aspects with it, and we wanted it to look like it had been there for awhile and it belonged in Independence,” Dethlefs said. “I think this probably does blend better with the community.”

The events center also features a second full-sized sheet of ice that seats about 300 people in bleachers for community events. 

“It’s really combining two different buildings into one aspect,” Dethlefs said. “Hopefully, people like it. We’ll see.”