It isn’t easy being a Kansas Democrat, in a thousand different ways, but the biggest humiliation almost always comes at their party’s national convention every four years.
Delegates from the reddest of red states are almost always escorted, like Kent Dorfman in the movie “Animal House,” to seats near Sidney, Clayton, and Jugdish. This year their seats in Charlotte are in nosebleed territory. Their hotel is near Virginia, next door to the District of Columbia delegation, which is soblue
they get mistreated, too.
There’s a lesson in this for Kansas City officials now thinking of bidding for the Republican Convention in 2016. Mayor Sly James and other city officials, we’ve been told, have expressed some interest to the GOP about pursuing its convention the next time around.
Here’s the lesson: Kansas City almost certainly doesn’t have the pieces in place to host a national political convention.
We do meet a couple of criteria. The Sprint Center would be an acceptable venue for convention sessions, and Bartle Hall — within walking distance — would provide ample media and support space for a convention. And the Power and Light District would give delegates and guests a place to eat and play.
But hotel space near those sites would not begin to meet the demand for a place to sleep. Instead, delegates — including, perhaps, those from Kansas — would need to find room and board at quite a distance from downtown. Kansas Democrats are actually staying in Concord, North Carolina, about the same distance as Tonganoxie is from downtown, necessitating a 40-minute shuttle each day.
Lack of close-in hotel space isn’t a fatal defect, however, as long as a host city has a robust public transportation system. In Denver, for example, light rail easily ferried delegates to the convention arena.
But Kansas City doesn’t have light rail, either. Instead, we’d have to rely on shuttles and bus transportation, alternatives that are bound to keep some delegates grumbling about our community for months after the convention is over.
limited light rail and delegates are still barking.
A lack of hotel space or rapid transit is tough for a convention city. The lack of both is near fatal.
Taxpayers may eventually be asked to support a new hotel, or light rail, or both. I’m not suggesting a national convention is worth enough to invest in either project — in fact, it probably wouldn’t be. And building a hotel or rail before 2016 seems almost impossible anyway.
But if the city wants to avoid embarrassing stories of delegates stranded far from Sprint Center, we might want to pass on a big political gathering. It’s much more complicated than an All-Star game.
Sorry. Maybe Clayton and Jugdish know some better places to go.