How do you destroy decades of goodwill built up between your organization and the city you depend on to love you back?
Through brute arrogance that serves no one well.
That’s where we are today with the American Royal.
This week its leaders announced they won’t participate in a new city-led effort to find a new use for Kemper Arena. The Royal also is “halting planning and fund-raising for a new events center in the West Bottoms,” The Star reported.
This comes, of course, after leaders of the Royal have spent months belittling other uses for the arena, berating others for putting forth ideas for a better Kemper and generally behaving badly.
The prime candidates for sharing the blame are Neal Patterson, co-founder and CEO of Cerner Corp., and Mariner Kemper, CEO of UMB Financial Corp.
Attorney Korb Maxwell, writing on behalf of the Royal, on Monday kept up the condescending tone with a letter to the city.
“We don’t think our further participation in a public debate regarding these facilities is healthy for our organization, our donors or our youth sports partner,” Maxwell wrote. “Thus, we will not be submitting a response to the RFP and will suspend all planning, participation in hearings and fundraising for the new events center.”
That’s not exactly the tone you should take in dealing with city officials who have the power to decide whether your organization will get millions of taxpayer dollars for your project.
The American Royal used to be a far bigger deal to more Kansas Citians than it is today. In fact, many people know very little about the Royal other than the very large barbecue it holds in the fall in the West Bottoms.
Frankly, I’m not the biggest proponent of keeping the money-losing Kemper Arena open. If a good plan to re-use that property comes along, I’m all for it.
And the Royal’s proposal for an events center — if it could have been promoted properly — might have had a chance at succeeding this year at City Hall.
Instead, you had people like Patterson criticizing city officials for allegedly taking too much time to move ahead with the events center. That didn’t win friends at City Hall or with the general public.
Neither have continued hints that the Royal could always move elsewhere. But who would want it?
Currently, the future of the American Royal looks much bleaker than it did last year, before all this hoopla started.
Institutions such as the Royal need calm-headed, practical people leading them, not those who arrogantly think they will get their way no matter what.