Thursday, March 30, 2006

Yael Abouhalkah, Kansas City Star Numbnut

Old Yael never misses a chance to promote anything that will cost the poor saps in KCMO money, extend the power of government over their existence, or enrich the already wealthy and connected at the expense of the general populace. In fact, most of his notions manage to do all three.

His latest piece, "Are You Still Undecided?", is little more than a thinly veiled threat to the voters there that they will really be sorry if they turn down the current proposal to finance a ridiculous, sliding Conestoga-wagon-like roof which perambulates so as to cover either the Arrowhead or Royals Stadium, as desired.

Of course, if Arrowhead Stadium really needed covering, one could easily determine who ought to pay for the job: Chiefs owner Lamar Hunt. He could write a check for the job without flinching, and he would if it were really necessary-necessary, that is, to his ego as a team owner.

Abouhalkah's scare piece consists of three boogeymen: the idea that taxpayers will pay more later if they don't pay now, the idea that per-user fees already are higher at other tax financed attractions than for the sports complex, and the big threat itself: that the teams could leave if the proposal is defeated.

Let's take that last one seriously. In fact, I believe Abouhalkah is half right on this one. One of the pro teams at the Sports Complex is going to leave sooner or later, and we all know which one. The Royals.

The differential economics of football and baseball mean that in a small market like Kansas City-and Kansas City is small not only in population but consistently punches far below its weight, it really is Wichita East in more ways than one-a town has to be rabid about baseball to justify having Major League Baseball there. Unlike Cincinnati and St. Louis, smaller markets (but both bigger, and more sophisticated, than KC) with very solid support for Reds and Cardinals baseball, KC has always been a fair-weather baseball town, with support peaking during the Royals-Yankees rivalry in the mid-80s, culminating in Kansas City's World Series run. Unless baseball decides to change its revenue sharing plans, either out of the goodness of George Steinbrenner's heart or (more possible but equally unlikely) a serious congressional bid to smack MLB right in the antitrust exemption if they don't, Kansas City major league baseball is doomed. And with the relative success of the independent league KCK T-Bones, it's likely Kansas City might not even get a triple-A team.

Football, however, is secure. KC is a solid pro football town, and even if Lamar Hunt decided to move, Kansas City would be a prime spot for another owner to move to, and the first spot to be considered in any expansion scheme. Hunt is not abouit to move, however.

The other objections, in this perspective, are bogus. Zoo and memorial visitors are just not in the same league with sports fans, and if we aren't going over on this one OR the other one, then we just aren't going over.

Sorry Yael, you're wrong this time. Just like always.


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