Basketball is coming back to Downtown Kansas City this week and already there’s a wide-scale push to continue the urban legend otherwise known as The Downtown Renaissance.
Of course The Kansas City Star is content to report unquestioningly from PR copy but the figures just don’t add up. The underlying cultural logics of all the news stories celebrating the crowds coming to see the Big 12 reveals that Kansas City just wanted to bring white people back downtown no matter what the cost. And while this city is drowning in a sea of debt, there is no question (this week anyway) that the goal of bringing JoCo and other suburban sports fans back into the loop has been accomplished.
Still, a few years into all this subsidized construction it’s plain to see that a flock of sports dorks from The Golden Ghetto won’t save Kansas City. Not even close.
Again, Kansas City pays $20 million a year for the luxury of the mediocre music and generic style of the P&L District. And the Sprint Center revenue structure is so convoluted that advocates for the place can debate its value despite the fact that it puts yet another tax on local biz (car rentals) in the area. Nevertheless, to me the fact that even the most desperate of professional sports teams don’t want to move into the place signals that this town overpaid for the glass palace that stays empty most of the year.
Still, smiling faces (of white people) on Downtown streets create a nice illusion that obfuscates the depressing financial numbers as Kansas City lags behind the rest of the nation in understanding that paying the bills is far more important than subsidizing a good party.