- Associated Press - Friday, February 6, 2015

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - Lamar Hunt Jr., son of the founder of the Kansas City Chiefs, has purchased the Missouri Mavericks, a minor league hockey team based in a Kansas City suburb.

Hunt said Thursday that he hopes to increase interest in the sport but it is too soon to determine if the region could support an NHL team.

“That’s a natural question for people to ask,” Hunt said, “but honestly I can’t say today that Kansas City would be a strong NHL market. What we have to do is grow the youth program and get more sheets of ice in the community. You need more skaters when they’re young.”

Hunt’s ownership of the Mavericks is not part of Hunt Sports Group, which is run by his brother Clark, chairman of the Chiefs. Lamar Hunt Jr., of Leawood, is president of Kansas City-based Loretto Sports Ventures, which invests in sports teams, properties and affiliated assets, The Kansas City Star reports (http://bit.ly/1LTXDGO ).

Hunt said he would like to have the Mavericks, who play in Independence, become a top farm club for an NHL team. The Mavericks currently are affiliated with the American Hockey League’s Chicago Wolves, the top farm club of the NHL’s St. Louis Blues.

“That’s a fine affiliation,” Hunt said, “but the NHL brings a lot of scouting and professionalism and player development.”

Paul McGannon, president of NHL21, a community organization dedicated to bringing the NHL to Kansas City, said he was “thrilled” to hear about Hunt’s involvement.

“We’ve tried to put all the pieces together, meaning Kansas City has the demographics, Kansas City has the state-of-the-art arena in Sprint Center,” McGannon said. “The missing link has been an ownership group with the wherewithal to (own) an NHL team. So to have a person of this influence obviously is well-connected. We’ll see where it goes.”

The Mavericks are averaging 5,176 in the 5,800-seat Independence Events Center, ranking sixth in attendance of 28 teams in the ECHL.

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Information from: The Kansas City Star, http://www.kcstar.com

Copyright © 2016 The Washington Times, LLC.

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