Kansas City’s tiresome and unnecessary inferiority complex risks wider exposure as the Major League Baseball All-Star Game activities roll out over the next few days.
By YAEL T. ABOUHALKAH
The Kansas City Star
But I refuse to participate.
And I really hope the powers-that-be — from Mayor Sly James on down — publicly and forcefully take pride in the many great attributes of this city rather than spend any time apologizing for shortcomings.
Yet, sadly, I’m prepared to hear and see stories, blogs and tweets doing just that from Kansas Citians who ought to know better.
Often, we want outsiders to love us so much that we’re far too quick to go on and on about what’s not up-to-speed here, such as our lack of mass transit and our woefully undeveloped riverfront.
As a longtime resident, I get the fact that Kansas Citians — and by extension that means residents of Overland Park, Olathe, Lee’s Summit and other local suburbs — live in flyover country. Much of the rest of the nation truly knows or cares little about us. Too bad for them.
I thus understand why plenty of residents in recent weeks have proclaimed they are eager to please the thousands of visitors who will be coming to the metropolitan area for events related to next Tuesday’s All-Star Game.
It’s a fine approach, up to a point.
I want tourists to spend money to stay in hotels, shop on the Country Club Plaza and drink in the Power & Light District. I hope they see stunning new sites such as our Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts and lovely older ones such as the lively River Market area.
I’ll join other residents in being friendly, giving directions and handing out advice about this city.
But that’s it. When it comes to apologizing for our weaknesses or suffering insults or putdowns from visitors, count me out.
We’re all aware Kansas City doesn’t have the night life of Chicago or New York City or Los Angeles.
Kansas City doesn’t have the mountains of Denver, the history of Boston or the self-importance of Washington, D.C.
However, there’s plenty to like about a city that’s in the top 20 to 25 places to live in this country.
Kansas City has lots of truly friendly and caring people, a low cost of living and an all-round quality of life that many people in those previously mentioned cities would love to have. They wouldn’t mind less congested roads or a lot bigger houses for more reasonable prices.
Does Kansas City have problems? Yes, plenty.
But while it’s understandable and worthwhile to get all worked up about the high crime rate and the poor public urban schools here, take a look elsewhere. Other big cities face serious violent crime, too. They also have badly failing school districts.
If some All-Star Game visitors leave town thinking this is a community that deserves the flyover curse, who cares? Other tourists will enjoy their experience and spread the word.
Kansas City has made strong strides to improve itself in recent years by adding the Kauffman Center and Sprint Center and by renovating the Truman Sports Complex, Union Station and the Kansas City Zoo.
I ardently backed each project. They cost hundreds of millions of public and private dollars.
But while many supporters of these amenities promoted the wonderful tourism dollars they could bring in, that was never my primary goal.
I wanted a better zoo and a revived Union Station and a modern sports complex so they could serve the people who live here year-round.
We shouldn’t worry so much about trying to impress others.
We ought to be concentrating on creating an even higher quality of life for the two million people who have decided to put down roots in the Kansas City area.
Reach Yael T. Abouhalkah at 816-234-4887 or email him at email@example.com. He blogs at voices.kansascity.com. Twitter.com/YaelTAbouhalkah.