Merger looming: The Sprint impact on Overland Park - KCTV5

Merger looming: The Sprint impact on Overland Park

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When the Sprint World Headquarters Campus opened in the late 90s, the New York Times described it as "the largest office complex in the Midwest." (AP) When the Sprint World Headquarters Campus opened in the late 90s, the New York Times described it as "the largest office complex in the Midwest." (AP)
OVERLAND PARK, KS (KCTV) -

For years, there has been speculation about what the future holds for Sprint and its thousands of employees in Overland Park.

With all the recent talk of a possible merger with T-Mobile, some people wonder if the telecom giant might be moving.

When the Sprint World Headquarters Campus opened in the late 90s, the New York Times described it as "the largest office complex in the Midwest."

In Sprint's heyday, 14,500 employees worked in Overland Park. But after years of layoffs and downsizing, less than 6,000 people work at the sprawling Overland Park campus today. And some fear that number could significantly shrink again if talk of a Sprint merger comes true.

"A merger for Sprint is much more likely today, whatever form it takes, than it was a year ago because the Trump administration is going to be much more friendly about mergers and much less concerned about anti-trust problems than the Obama administration would have been," said Dave Helling of the Kansas City Star editorial board.

Last month, while at a meeting with President Donald Trump and other telecom leaders, Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure talked positively of a possible merger with T-Mobile.

Helling says if the two companies enter into a partnership, they will not be on equal footing.  

"I do think if there is a merger, Sprint will be seen as the junior partner," Helling said.

Helling and others believe a merger would eventually result in a significant reduction of Sprint jobs in Overland Park.

If that sounds like that would spell economic doom and gloom for Overland Park, hold on. Overland Park Realtor Mary Carol Lienemann says the city is experiencing rapid growth.

"Right now we just don't have the inventory to meet the demand," Lienemann said.

She says it's such a sellers market right now that many homes in Overland Park are selling just hours after being put on the market.

"If they have gotten it ready - market ready - and they've got the right price and they've done the staging, or marketing as I call it, and they're ready to go ... if they've done everything correct it should sell in one day," Lienemann said.

While the thought of Sprint jobs leaving Overland Park troubles Lienemann, she believes the current housing market could withstand a major jobs loss.

Ben Tarwater of Engle Homes agrees. He says with local companies, like Garmin and Cerner continuing to grow, Overland Park has grown big enough to absorb potential job losses at Sprint.

"Which means there's going to be more jobs, more people ... so from a homebuilders standpoint, yes, it's a great time to be here. And there will be growth for years to come," Tarwater said.

Helling says the future is so bright in Overland Park that even without Sprint, the city should prosper.

"So losing the campus would be a blow, something that the city would not want and the region would not want, but not a fatal one," Helling said.

No one wants to see a mass exodus of local Sprint jobs, but if that uncomfortable possibility becomes reality, it appears Overland Park is strong enough to withstand a Sprint vanishing act.

Related story:

Reports: Sprint seeking merger with Charter Communications

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