It's (Past Time) to Step Up, Kansas City

[UPDATE -- Within an hour of this post's publication, Representative Mike Talboy sent me an email informing me that he has spoken about this issue on 610 radio in KC. I apologize for missing this radio segment (what can I say, I'm an 810 listener). Also, I should note that I don't assume Missouri's legislators haven't been doing anything behind the scenes regarding this issue, but publicly, we have heard very, very little about this issue. -- TB]

I wonder where Mike Talboy stands on the University of Missouri's apparently imminent move to the Southeastern Conference.

You probably do, too. As far as I can tell, the representative for Missouri's 37th District hasn't had anything to say about the whole deal. That's interesting, because Talboy's district is in Jackson County, and includes the heart of Kansas City.

What about you, John Rizzo, District 40? Haven't heard much out of you, either. Of course, that probably shouldn't be a surprise. It wasn't until several days after Missouri's board of curators gave chancellor Brady Deaton the authority to negotiate Mizzou's conference affiliation that Kansas City mayor Sylvester "Sly" James, Jr., finally made a public statement, urging the Tigers to remain in the Big 12.

Did you read that letter, Leonard Hughes, IV, District 42? It mentioned that the Big 12's men's and women's basketball tournaments, staged annually at Kansas City's sparkling Sprint Center, generate more than $14 million in annual revenue for the city. Yeah, I heard you whistle, Gail McCann Beatty, District 43. That's a lot of money.

And in case you were curious, Jason Kander, District 44, that's not the only major Mizzou event in Kansas City. Arrowhead Stadium has become the annual site of the Border War football game between Missouri and KU. No, Jason Holsman, District 45, it's not nearly the revenue generator that the basketball tournaments are, but I bet the stadium your county recently renovated is happy to have the money. Bet it books a few hotel rooms, too.

But let's get back to the basketball tournaments for a second. 

 

The men's tournament, at the aforementioned Sprint Center, is played right next to the Power & Light District. You remember the P&L, don't you Kevin McManus, District 46? It was built with $295 million in bonds, and now some project that it will require city funding for a generation. I don't know if Jeff Grisamore, District 47, is a basketball fan, but if he is, he's probably seen the huge crowds that fill P&L every single day of the Big 12 Tournament. I know a bartender here in Lee's Summit, and there are probably plenty like him, who work 18-hour days four days a year in mid-March. It's a big event, and I bet the P&L bars and restaurants could use the money.

But it's not just the P&L, Gary L. Cross, District 48. Have you heard of these curious people from "Iowa State" (yeah, I think it may be part of Canada, but never mind). They come to Kansas City in droves, partially because their best "city" is Des Moines. Look, I've driven through it, and if it's really a city, it's doing a helluva job of hiding its skyline. Anyway, these Iowans flock to Kansas City every year just to watch their Cyclones lose a game, except when they get all crazy and are actually good at basketball. Anyway, they LOVE Kelly's bar in Westport. They love it like cats love yarn. If they ever actually get good at basketball again -- and they may be this year, as long as their players don't kill each other -- they may stay in Kansas City for a few days. Seriously, there are a lot of them! If they stop coming to Kansas City, Kelly's is going to have a sad, Tom McDonald, District 49.

And Kelly's won't be the only non-P&L establishment that will have a sad, Michael Brown, District 50. You seem like a high-class gentleman, so I'm guessing you enjoy the occasional dinner and cocktail at Plaza III. You see, not all the Big 12 schools are such proletariats. We also have these folks from the University of Texas, and, you see, they're kinda rich. Like, so rich they sometimes use $100 bills as toilet paper on their yachts. Yeah, Ira Anders, District 51, they're kind of arrogant, too, but never mind. The point is they have money, and they're not going to be caught slumming it with the yuppies at P&L, or the lower-middle-class in Westport. Those folks on the Plaza aren't going to appreciate being deprived of that UT presence once per year.

What's that, Noel Torpey, District 52? Oh. Right. I can understand the confusion. I'm a K-State fan, writing this on a K-State blog. Most of your residents don't really like certain elements of Kansas, and I can understand why. You're right, I can understand why you're all asking why you should be listening to me. Gather 'round, Brent Lasater, District 53, you all should hear the story.

You see, I'm a Jackson County resident. I work here, own a house and a car here, and pay taxes on all of it here. I can vote for you, Mike Cierpiot, District 56, and Will Kraus, Senate District 8. OR NOT VOTE FOR YOU (BWAHAHAHAHA) (OK, one vote probably isn't the end of the world, but still). And lest you think I'm alone, Jeanie Lauer, District 54, you should know that one of the other moderators of this blog is a Kansas City, Mo., resident. Fella goes by Panjandrum. Yeah, it's a little over my head, too, but you don't want to mess with this dude. You make him angry and suddenly he's writing parodies about you getting lost on a deserted island and being eaten by Herky Hawkeye (don't ask). And that's when he's feeling nice. Texas A&M got all crazy and he had it riding a dogand peeing its pants (that's the PG part of the story).

Sorry, I'm getting a little off track here. You see, the University of Missouri is an important part of the Big 12. I love it when K-State beats the Tigers on the field or the court, but I love having them in the Big 12. And even more important, having them in the Big 12 is important to my chosen city and our county, Sheila Solon, District 55. With them in the conference, we can continue to have the Big 12 basketball tournaments in downtown KC, which is where they belong. Don't for a second think the folks in Austin and Norman and elsewhere are going to keep sending money to a state that abandoned the conference. They have NBA-quality arenas in Oklahoma City and Dallas, and with the damage this NBA lockout is going to do, they're going to be desperate for events to bring in crowds.

Pardon, S. Kiki Curls, Senate District 9? Oh, right. You've seen this document circulated among university officials that estimates the school will bring in $12 million more each year in the SEC. Glad you brought that up. I really hope people like you and Jolie Justus, Senate District 10, will use your legislative investigatory powers to check into that number, and not just take it on faith. Tell you what. I can point you in the right direction. This article shows that the SEC currently brings in $55 million more per year than the Big 12. But if Mizzou goes there, that money is going to be divided amongst 14 teams, which is $14.6 million per team. In a 10-team Big 12, Missouri will get $15 million per year. Even if the conference immediately expands to 12, which isn't likely if Missouri stays, that total only drops to $12.5 million per year. And don't forget, the Big 12's Tier 1 TV contract is up for renegotiation in 2015. Meanwhile, the SEC is locked in through 2024. Yeah, Victor Callahan, Senate District 11, I know that there's talk that the SEC could start an "SEC Network" and supposedly reap an extra $168 million per year, which is where the "$12 million more per year" number comes from. But don't you think you should get that on better authority than what fanboys like Mike and Gabe DeArmond and some dude named Clay Travis are writing? Just take a little deeper look into how realistic those numbers are, is all I ask.

Look, the bottom line is that the University of Missouri says this move is in its best interests. But you have a duty, as representatives of Jackson County and Kansas City, Missouri, to look into what harm this move will do to your county and whether the alleged benefit Mizzou will receive from the move is worth dealing with that harm. I don't mean to be a downer, but I've been in your family court and seen your school board close almost half its schools in the last couple years. I don't think this area is in any position to be giving up money without a fight. Maybe part of my reason for writing this is for selfish reasons, but you have real, pragmatic reasons to want Mizzou to be in the Big 12, and that's because this area benefits from it and the claimed gain for Mizzou is suspect, if it exists at all. This is the only area in the entire state of Missouri that sees a direct financial benefit from Missouri's membership in the Big 12, and that benefit is gone if Missouri goes to the SEC. You're not going to host the SEC football championship game or the SEC tournament. Those are both firmly rooted in Atlanta's Georgia Dome. Frankly, the fact that you have something to lose in this, while St. Louis, Springfield and the Bootheel have no direct benefit to lose (or gain, for that matter) makes your passivism on this matter stunning.

Time's running out. As it is, stopping this harm to KC will take an 11th-hour miracle, but for your constituents' sake, you'd better at least be able to say you tried. Given Kansas City's history of just rolling over and taking it, I'm not holding my breath.

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