Yael T. Abouhalkah

Shine the Kansas City spotlight on sports, rankings and politics

Kansas City is on a roll, thanks in large part to enthusiasm about the play of the Kansas City Royals. Here, blue light bathes Union Station in support of the Royals last week.
Kansas City is on a roll, thanks in large part to enthusiasm about the play of the Kansas City Royals. Here, blue light bathes Union Station in support of the Royals last week. Special to The Star

Kansas City is on a roll, thanks partly to lots of local enthusiasm about — and national media attention to — the amazing postseason play of the Royals.

The team’s achievements fit the view Kansas Citians often have about themselves: Plenty of people consider this flyover country, but we take pride in our virtues and, eventually, someone is going to notice the good stuff going on here.

Today, let’s shine the spotlight on the topics of sports, rankings and politics.

▪ Start with the obvious: This area is hungry for a World Series title, the first one in 29 years.

Beyond the shot of civic pride, postseason baseball has injected some money from free-spending visitors into the local economy. It’s great to see hotels, restaurants and shops filled with fans and media from outside the area.

But what about all the local residents shelling out big bucks for costly tickets, Royals gear and bar tabs? Well, that’s good to see, too, especially for the businesses benefiting from that spending. Yet as economists always note about sports and its effects on a community, much of that spending is simply redirected from other expenses. Giving to owner David Glass and the Royals means not using that money for going out to eat sometime in the future, or for socking away a little extra in the retirement fund, etc.

That’s why it’s so good to see out-of-towners bring their cash to Kansas City, and inject it into the local economy.

▪ In the ratings category, Travel + Leisure magazine in its November issue gives a huge shout-out to Kansas City.

Based on readers’ voting, Kansas City grabbed a highly notable third place finish in the “top cities overall” category, trailing Providence and Houston, and ahead of Minneapolis/St. Paul and Los Angeles.

Wait a minute: Providence? Sure, these rankings often are more than just a little bit of fun, done to grab eyeballs and not based on measurable statistics.

However, the Travel + Leisure rankings do get a few things right, if you’re into enjoying the fact that others see Kansas City pretty much as we see ourselves.

For instance, Kansas City is first in barbecue (naturally), Christmas lights (thank you, Country Club Plaza) and affordability. Kansas City is first in flea markets and third in free attractions (we’re thrifty). And the city is second in craft beer and fourth in culture (growing strengths of this region) and fourth in shopping (naturally).

▪ On a more serious note, the November local elections aren’t likely to have a tremendous effect on the city’s future — except in one respect.

If Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback loses re-election, it’s going to be up to new Gov. Paul Davis to step in and work to end the economic development border war that’s been sapping tax dollars from Kansas and Missouri for years.

Brownback hasn’t wanted to do that because he desperately needs the media hype that goes along with any announcement that “new” jobs are coming to Kansas, even if merely stolen from across the state line. He and his supporters always leave out the fact that their state, which can hardly afford to lose revenue, has to give up millions of dollars in future tax receipts to “win” the competition.

Ditto for Missouri, which sadly is engaged in the same kind of costly and destructive contest that doesn’t energize this metropolitan area with any net new employment.

The Missouri legislature has approved a pathway out of this mess, essentially a compact that would ban giving state subsidies to companies that merely hop the state line.

Kansas needs to get aboard, too. A Davis victory in November could change that dynamic and be a net positive for the Kansas City region.

Know what else would be good? A World Series title. Go Royals.

To reach Yael T. Abouhalkah, call 816-234-4887 or send email to abouhalkah@kcstar.com. Twitter: @YaelTAbouhalkah.

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