Hearne: ‘Paris on the Plains’ Loses a Great One; Kevin Gray Dies of Cancer

They don’t get any better than Greater Kansas City Sports Commission point man Kevin Gray...

Gray died today of cancer, only having learned he had contracted it in March during the Big 12 tourney .

Make no mistake, I had my differences with Gray over the years. Nothing huge. But he was always a gentleman and a good sport throughout. There was just no getting around Gray’s likeability factor – no matter the disagreement.

Did Gray blow smoke up the city and voter’s you-know-whats with a ginned up feasibility study about a new arena certain to bring Kansas City an NBA and/or NHL team? Of course he did!

Did we land either one or are we any closer than we were before Sprint Center got built? Of course not!

Hey, but Gray got it done. And while I’m somewhat loathe to admit it, it’s been a great thing for KC.

After the city spent millions fixing up a huge space for the college basketball coaches hall of fame and offices in Municipal Auditorium, Gray lead the charge to walk away from the space before the coaches could even move in.  Worse yet, not only was all that money wasted, Gray wanted to blow millions more building an even grander space adjacent to the Sprint Center. On top of that, the coaches organization hadn’t even been able to raise enough money to move into their new space at Municipal, let alone outfit the museum there.

It was ridiculous, but Gray got it done!

"I used to attend the advisory board meetings for the convention center and Music Hall with Kevin and I can tell you if the arts had an advocate as effective as Kevin Gray was for sports, Kansas City really would be Paris on the Plains," says Theater League main man Mark Edelman. "He was a great, great advocate for sports. He was a guy who could just walk in a room and smile – it was a sports thing – he was like a guy’s guy."

"You know, when I first came here seven years ago, Kevin Gray was one of the first people I came into contact with," says Oscar McGaskey, Jr., Kansas City’s Executive Director of Convention and Entertainment Facilities. "I got to spend some time with him, and I don’t think I ever met someone as passionate about sports and bringing sports to this city. He was very energetic, very passionate and always looking for what was best for Kansas City. He was always thinking of what he could do to assist the city in bringing events to Municipal Auditorium. And he was instrumental in helping get the Sprint Center built."

What’d I tell you?

"One of the things I remember about Kevin was he would always say to me at the end of a conversation, ‘Onward and forward’ in a very kind of funny way. And he always talked about historic events played in Municipal Auditorium. About John Wooden and Wilt Chamberlain. He was like a walking encyclopedia.

"And he would always talk about his family and how much he loved his daughters and his wife. He always put them first. He would tell me, ‘Oscar, I can’t do anything with you this week because I have to spend some time with my daughters. This is a very sad day for Kansas City. He will be missed."

To which I would like to add, ditto!

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7 Responses to Hearne: ‘Paris on the Plains’ Loses a Great One; Kevin Gray Dies of Cancer

  1. smartman says:

    Gray’s Anatomy
    Did Gray blow smoke up the city and voter’s you-know-whats with a ginned up feasability study about a new arena certain to bring Kansas City an NBA and/or NHL team?

  2. Hearne Christopher says:

    I guess what I’m saying is his heart was in the right place. And his vision worked out better than I initially imagined.

  3. Rainbow Man says:

    Some poeple sit on the sidelines and bitch. Some people get in the game. I have far more respect for people I disagree with who are actually out there doing things, than people that I do agree with who sit in the peanut gallery. Gray made a difference. He touched thousands and singlehandedly kept KC relevant in the sporting realm. Without him, we would have much less. We need more Kevin Grays in this great city of ours. I wish his family the best.

  4. Markus Aurelius says:

    Well said, Rainbow Man….
    May God provide Gray’s family peace and comfort during this difficult time. I, for one, appreciate the passion for Kansas City and sports that he brought to the table. Though I disagreed with Gray’s position on the renovation of the K — would have rather spent $$ moving the ballpark downtown — I always admired his passion and commitment to our city. Rest in peace.

  5. Eric says:

    Very sad. My condolences to all Kevin’s friends and family. Met him a few times and his passion for sports, this city and people in general shined through.

  6. Bill Nigro says:

    Kevin truely was a great Kansas Citian. I’m really glad I knew him. God Bless his family.

  7. sportsfan says:

    smartman is ridiculous
    I stumbled across this researching gray and I was personally disgusted by the comments “smartman” had to offer. Smartmas had the audacity to comment and place kevin gray in a negative light. 3+ months later I am still researching articles in regards to grays contributions to kansas city. Smartman clearly did not know gray nor did he care about the thousands of kansas citians who loved and cared for the man. How dare anyone bash a man who lost his life too soon to such a horrific disease. Smartman you never knew kevin gray or the man he was so whether you knew him or not I guarantee you were half the man kevin gray become before his life was cut too short. May god bless the jealousy that overwhelmed your comment. You are an ignorant individual who does not deserve a comment on a man who’s life was well spent and well lived. He never reaped the benefits of the organization he ran. May god bless your own ignorance and sheer stupidity.

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