K.C. Star: Vote no, lose your teams

Making up for last week’s skeptical look at the economic benefits of stadiums, yesterday’s Kansas City Star followed up with an article that began:

Imagine the Portland Royals. Or the Charlotte Royals. What about the Los Angeles Chiefs? Or Anaheim Chiefs?

Those are among the cities that have their eyes on Kansas City’s major-league teams if Jackson County voters do not approve an April 4 sales-tax measure that would help fund renovations at the Truman Sports Complex.

All that’s missing are the sound effects.

The rest of the article is more of the same, with vague rumors of the relocation menace – “San Antonio is proposing a $300 million open-air stadium that would include $200 million in public funding”! (well, one guy is), “Portland and Norfolk even have active organizations dedicated to bringing a big-league team to their communities”! – and wall-to-wall quotes from sports boosters in these other cities, plus one from the head of the Greater Kansas City Sports Commission alleging: “The reality is these two Kansas City treasures will be able to leave at the end of the year, and other cities will want to take them from us.” Number of sports business experts asked about the likelihood of either team actually taking flight? Zero. I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again: When you have the media and politicians writing your blackmail notes for you, that makes it a lot easier to play good cop.

3 comments on “K.C. Star: Vote no, lose your teams

  1. Here we go again. The Pittsburgh Pirates score public money. Their owner, Mr. McClatchey, awash in new-found cash, should be a happy man. But there is this clever owner in Minneapolis who invents revenue sharing to help his “small market” Twins (the Twin Cities are the nation’s 14th largest TV market, and will crack the top ten within a decade). Mr. McClatchey doesn’t like to share his money, what can he do? Fortunately, his family owns a chain of newspapers, including the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. The Strib surprisingly comes out in favor of public funding of a new stadium for the Twins, which will quench the revenue-sharing. Readers are inundated with dire editorials (if we lose the Twins, we won’t be major-league anymore, we’ll become a cold Omaha) and absurd sports column rants (see: HARTMAN, SID). However, these pleas fall on deaf ears. One fine day three weeks ago, the McClatchey Group buys Knight-Ridder newspapers, including the KC rag. The new management just happens to notice a local referendum on sports stadiums, which the paper suddenly supports. To KC, one can only say caveat emptor, you’ll always have barbeque in your warm Omaha. And try not to laugh when the local paper extols its editorial integrity.

  2. At a recent Kansas City neighborhood breakfast, a local east side activist made a great observation about the upcoming stadium tax. He declared that, while he had seen many elections, never had he seen one in which the poor would get absolutely nothing tangible in return for a yes vote.

    In all previous tax elections, no matter how inefficient or corrupt the project might have been, there was at least some small benefit in it for the average citizen. The stadium tax provides tangible benefits only for the wealthy and politically powerful. The rest are left with only good will and bragging rights.