Was a time the Kansas City Star owned this town when it came to, not just news coverage but editorial opinion. It may not always have gotten its way, but it carried a pretty big stick and when it’s writers and editors shouted, “Jump!” the next thought that crossed their minds was “How high?”
Times have changed.
Don’t get me wrong, the “paper” is still Kansas City’s largest gatherer and reporter of news and that’s not likely to change anytime soon. If ever. That said, there are plenty of other voices around today and locals are too well informed to inhale every puff of smoke the Star puts out when it comes to shaping opinions.
Take today’s editorial glorifying the Sprint Center.
My story about the Sprint Center five-year anniversary Sunday was probably too long for many readers (as was the Star‘s) but in a nutshell I pointed out how millions of dollars were squandered and lots of hot air dispensed by the supporters in courting support of the new arena from voters. With precious little oversight by the quote/unquote newspaper of record.
And that’s what we got more of today in an editorial headlined, “Sprint Center has been a success story for KC.”
“Sprint Center has been a big success…” it begins. “The city has reaped more than a million dollars a year in extra income from the arena’s successful operations.”
So let’s cut right to the chase.
While that may be true, the last time I checked Kansas City were dropping a million bucks a year at Kemper Arena which went from hosting 150 real deal events a year to 25 weak-as-a-kitten dates. On top of which Kansas City’s still paying for Kemper’s late in life redo and parking additions…to the tune of about $2 million a year.
I’ve lived here most of my life and damn few people really care one way or the other about the American Royal. With the exception of the barbecue contest which has taken on a life of its own, fully apart from horse and cow and pig judging that is the Royal’s core.
And don’t forget the $5 million the city blew getting Municipal Auditorium ready for the college coaches and their questionably successful basketball “Experience” museum.
No sooner had Kansas City blown its $5 million to ready the space for the “Experience” than the coaches jumped ship and hopped on KC mayor Kay Barnes bandwagon to relocate at Sprint.
What’s humorous too is that after all that baiting of KC’s sports-loving public about getting an NHL or NBA team, the Star editorial – authored likely by longtime Sprint Center yell leader Yael Abouhalkah – was reduced to parroting excuses offered by promoter AEG for not needing an anchor tenant team. That they can book more concerts without one.
To an extent that’s true. With so many dark dates because we don’t have a team there are fewer conflicts.
But do the editors at the Star really believe the Sprint Center picked up 41 more concerts than it would have otherwise gotten if it had a full slate of regular season NBA home games?
Having booked concerts for several years and worked with promoters large and small, I can tell you how the game is played.
Chances are Kansas City would have missed out on a handful of shows or events every year if it had an NHL or NBA team. But what happens when there’s a conflcit is the touring artists re-route their shows whenever possible for an alternate date.
Trust me, Lady Antebellum‘s not going to pass up a fat paycheck in KC if at all possible.
And 41 home NBA games isn’t something to be scoffed at or rationalized away.
Why do you think the Power & Light District is grousing about Sprint not landing a team? Like they have no clue but behind the scene geeks like Abouhalkah – who seldom if ever even attend to a concert at Sprint – somehow do?
That’s what’s wrong with pretending you understand how a given business or industry works when you obviously don’t. You don’t gain that understanding by swallowing whole the excuses offered by the people who failed to get the job done.
Which is exactly why the Star needs to start getting serious about its watchdog role.
And that goes beyond busting greedy bible thumpers.
The newspaper’s paying (advertiser) customers deserve some oversight as well.