Kansas City
July 8, 2012 11:05 AM   Subscribe

"Kansas City gets the All-Star Game, and it’s likely that this will be the last time Kansas City will be in the national sports spotlight for a long time." Joe Posnanski on the downfall and charm of Kansas City, which "used to be in the spotlight with regularity. There have been 10 Final Fours here, more than any other city. The NCAA was based here. There were two World Series here, a Davis Cup semifinal, numerous NFL playoff games including the Christmas Day game that is one of the best ever played. Tom Watson stayed here, so did George Brett ... But times have changed. Unless something dramatic changes -- and it almost certainly won’t -- there won’t ever be a Super Bowl here, a U.S. Open here, another Final Four here. There’s a beautiful arena downtown that was built largely for an NBA or NHL team that almost certainly won’t ever come. Another World Series seems as distant as anything. The All-Star Game won’t come back for a long time."
posted by geoff. (17 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite

 
That was quite painful to read.

I was laid off from the newspaper in Lawrence, just outside of KC, a little under two years ago. I moved to the opposite side of Kansas last August.

In practical terms, when I move again it should be much farther afield than to the Kansas City area. The East Coast is the most likely destination. But that's in an undefined future, and right now I'm tearing up because while I can drive out for a visit, it's just not the same thing.

I want to go home.
posted by rewil at 11:47 AM on July 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


A great read (he's a great writer), but one lingering question: why? Why is this happening to Kansas City? He mentions Pittsburgh at the beginning, and I understand the waning (and now waxing) of that city: the steel industry left, now medicine and tech are fostering a revival. But Kansas City and St. Louis - is it because of the gradual evaporation of people from the middle of the country? Are we congregating on the coasts (East, West, Great Lakes, and Gulf), leaving the middle as a great and soon to be abandoned prairie?

My questions aside, thanks for sharing. I love places and I love people who love places. You can tell that Posnanski loves his city, and the way it makes him feel.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 12:01 PM on July 8, 2012


I have a friend in KC who says it is super cheap to rent big roomy art spaces there.
posted by telstar at 12:43 PM on July 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


The Kansas City metropolitan statistical area grew (scroll down for population growth rankings) by about 11% between 2000 and 2010. That puts Kansas City solidly in the middle in terms of population growth for all MSAs with more than a million people. Kansas City may not be booming, but it's not dying either.
posted by mcmile at 12:44 PM on July 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Meanwhile Sporting KC starts the season with 7 straight wins for the best MLS start in a dozen years, and has a serious chance of hosting the US Open Cup with a win on Tuesday. It's just too bad that soccer doesn't qualify as a national sport, somehow.
posted by TypographicalError at 1:13 PM on July 8, 2012 [4 favorites]


Great read, and I feel for any medium/small-market MLB team in the current environment, but he's being a bit half-empty here. Yeah, the Royals - along with the rest of the medium/small-market MLB teams - are set up to fail in the current environment.

That isn't the case for the Chiefs and I would be very surprised if they aren't back in the playoffs and playing January games in front of a packed Arrowhead crowd inside 6 years. Parity in the NFL means all the teams get their time in the sun every decade, unless Mike Brown is your owner. Any city with an NFL team is going to get national exposure.
posted by N-stoff at 1:15 PM on July 8, 2012


A great read (he's a great writer), but one lingering question: why? Why is this happening to Kansas City? .... But Kansas City and St. Louis - is it because of the gradual evaporation of people from the middle of the country?

I'd argue, having lived there half my life, that he's selling you a false bill of goods. KC isn't in decline. Certainly, the Royals are fading (and they won't be missed), but college sports and the local economy is doing comparatively well.

In the limited scope of "professional sports franchises", the problem is split state politics. I know on the KC case, every few years I hear about another cross-state initiative that amounts to taxing the wealthy Kansan suburbs of KC to improve KCMO, either by bridges, stadiums or rail. I've never seen it pass when put to voters, and that lack of government financing is the real reason KC won't be hosting a SuperBowl any time soon.
posted by pwnguin at 1:20 PM on July 8, 2012


The Kansas City metropolitan statistical area grew (scroll down for population growth rankings) by about 11% between 2000 and 2010.

That MSA includes 15 counties, many of which I, as a former resident of eastern Kansas, would not have remotely considered "Kansas City".
When I was there, a whole ton of growth was happening in the suburbs, with "downtown" basically emptying after 5pm, when the businesses closed.

Last time I was there, there was some residual development from the housing boom, but Kansas City proper still lacked a hook, something to bring people in and keep them there.
The biggest problem that I had as an occasional visitor is the "sprawl" of the town, it goes on for a long way, with no identifiable core.
The airport is 20 miles away. Even the stadiums, Kaufman and Arrowhead are off in their own little wasteland.

Don't get me wrong. I wouldn't have any problem moving back to that area, but the article is entirely correct, Kansas City is a place whose charms are hidden, whose attractions won't be visible if you're just passing through.
posted by madajb at 1:48 PM on July 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think the toughest aspect of such midwestern or mountain towns without too much amazing terrain (so take out Phoenix or Denver) is that they boomed when people were without cars or at least less mobile -- so Kansas City and St. Louis were dominant for their river or transport network (rail) locations.

But, it's just that as people are mobile -- i.e. cars, airport hubs, such towns just seem strikingly isolating -- I interviewed for a position in St. Louis and was surprised at how really no other big city was a comfortable drive from there. Even for Pittsburgh, plenty of Ohio towns and Washington even are not too far away for a weekend drive. Living in the Northeast, you have a spoils of places to get in and drive to if you need -- like New York and Boston even.

As for their sports scene -- they probably could support an NBA team better than Sacramento or even Memphis given their history with the sport but Seattle and it's 5-million people within 2-hours of the arena are probably the first in line for that.
posted by skepticallypleased at 2:43 PM on July 8, 2012


madajb: "Last time I was there, there was some residual development from the housing boom, but Kansas City proper still lacked a hook, something to bring people in and keep them there."

It won't be a (government financed) stadium that does it.
posted by stratastar at 2:47 PM on July 8, 2012


As of this weekend, Sporting Kansas City is tied for 1st place in the MLS East. Get with the times, Joe. There's been more excitement in Livestrong Sporting Park this season than in the last 10 seasons combined at Kauffman Stadium.

Mainstream sports writers really need to stop treating soccer as a 2nd-tier sport. It's exploding, and they're missing all the fun, as well as looking foolish and ignorant.
posted by secondhand pho at 2:53 PM on July 8, 2012 [4 favorites]


Sporting KC is a bright spot athletically (despite the name, ugh). The article could also choose to wring its hands about the shrinking Big 12 marginalizing KC as a college sports venue.
posted by fleacircus at 3:35 PM on July 8, 2012


As of this weekend, Sporting Kansas City is tied for 1st place in the MLS East.

Did you know that in 2011, MLS had an *average* attendance per game of 17,872? This puts it in third -- on average, there are more people at an MLS match than an NBa or NHL game.

There are teams that have dropped some in average attendance, but many have risen, and Montreal and Seattle are drawing over 35K per game, and there are other teams that will draw more after stadium expansions.

posted by eriko at 5:04 PM on July 8, 2012


MLS had an *average* attendance per game of 17,872?

FWIW Sporting KC has an average attendance of 19,364 per game in 2012, while the KC Royals had an average attendance of 21,290 per game in 2011 (can't find figures for 2012 yet).

I wouldn't have thought the two to be nearly that close in attendance. My impression is that the Royals still get quite a lot more media coverage.
posted by flug at 8:56 PM on July 8, 2012


flug: "I wouldn't have thought the two to be nearly that close in attendance. My impression is that the Royals still get quite a lot more media coverage."

Well, they do have many more games-162 in a baseball season versus 34 for MLS.
posted by Chrysostom at 9:51 PM on July 8, 2012


It won't be a (government financed) stadium that does it.

I'm not sure what it should be.
There's some nice riverfront that's mostly inaccessible, as well as some grand old buildings down in the Bottoms. Land is still cheap, relatively speaking.
There's a decent airport, good Internet connectivity (It's the google fiber testbed) and a bunch of attractions.*

Maybe it's just the old "flyover state" reputation that keeps people away, or the house on an acre in the suburbs dream that's so popular in the midwest. But it should be doing better than it is.

*(plus BBQ!)
posted by madajb at 5:55 PM on July 9, 2012


MLB Network did a piece on the Negro League Museum, and at least the article here mentioned it a couple times. I don't know if ESPN has mentioned it much, but hopefully Fox does tomorrow.

I really need to rewatch Ken Burns' Baseball (and Buck O'Neil), but my Netflix progress had been glacial because most of my evenings have been spent... watching baseball. I blame Trout.
posted by TheSecretDecoderRing at 1:41 AM on July 10, 2012


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