City Leaders Fall Flat On Roof Issue

On Thursday afternoon, Chiefs' owner Lamar Hunt made a definitive statement on the issue of a rolling roof. It's not going to happen anytime soon. As a result, Kansas City has lost out on at least one Super Bowl, multiple final fours and numerous conventions and other events that would have made the community several million dollars.

Once again, this city has fallen prey to politicians who care more about tending their own agendas that keep them in office. They've ruined a great idea and put us decades behind cities like Indianapolis and St. Louis for significant economic growth.

"The rolling roof has always been about Kansas City, its economic development and the opportunity to bring major events to the community," Hunt said. "However, at this time we have concluded that it is appropriate to proceed on the Arrowhead renovations without the added ingredient of a weather-protecting roof."

Strike one for Kansas City.

The plan to inject the rolling roof on the April 4th ballot was ill-conceived, but it would have passed if it had been written in an understandable manner. The intent of the bill was to put the tax emphasis on the local business community and not directly on taxpayers. Citizens visiting Jackson County would have paid the bulk of that tax, but it would not have damaged their wallets.

The document was so poorly constructed that the average voting citizen didn't understand it, and thought "why pay two taxes when we can only pay one tax?" Sounds like a legitimate argument.

Hunt's words on Thursday were harsh, but they were also factual and honest. Clearly, he hopes that someday legislators will stand up and do the right thing. The current mash of Kansas City elected officials are far more inclined to pass legislation or present items for a vote when they don't have re-election hanging in the air. So don't expect anything to happen on the August or November ballots this year. But come April, the roof issue could resurface.

I'd list the names that contributed to the Chiefs giving up on the roof, but I don't want the politicians responsible for this absurdity to steal lollipops from your babies after kissing them on their cheeks.

Political chaos in Kansas City has run rampant since the days of Roe H. Bartle, who was suckered into switching the location of the Truman Sports Complex from the waterfront in the Old River Quay area to its current location. Someone got very rich off Bartle's loss.

But even more alarming is that Jackson County has yet to develop any of the surrounding land near the Truman Sports Complex with restaurants, shops or any kind of economic stimulation. Instead, county executives and state legislators have only complained about how they could not afford to keep the teams and tried to shove the responsibility on the taxpayers. The great residents of Jackson County bailed them out with the stadium renovations, but each and every one of these people who are currently bashing the idea of a roof over Arrowhead will indelibly leave a stain on their reputation.

Despite that, the good people of Jackson County understand the value in keeping the Chiefs in town. As far as the Royals, they are just the benefactors of the community's support for football. Baseball is dead in this town, but at least David Glass will have a state-of-the-art facility.

I'd rather see the money the Royals wanted go to the Chiefs. I'd rather have several final fours and a Super Bowl in Kansas City than be forced to watch minor league baseball in a major league market.

The Super Bowl, for now, is all but dead in Kansas City. Time will tell if we get another opportunity to host it.

"We have today informed NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue that we are withdrawing our request for the previously-granted February 2015 Super Bowl, but ask that the league in the future entertain a request for a future Super Bowl," said Hunt. "We have no idea as to when such a request might be made and, of course, it will be under the leadership of a different commissioner and an ever-evolving team ownership structure within the NFL."

Strike two for Kansas City.

In recent weeks, our local scribe, who opposed any measures to put the rolling roof on the August ballot, cited a report from Detroit that the economic impact of a winter Super Bowl did very little for the host city. The impact for Detroit proper was around $200 million. But the impact in the surrounding cities and communities, who were within 5-60 miles of Ford Field, was much greater. That figure was manipulated to crush the potential economic impact of a winter Super Bowl in Kansas City.

If the Super Bowl came to Kansas City in 2015, the economic impact to local business on both sides of the state line would have easily exceeded the $200 million cost of the rolling roof. And the economic impact in 2015 may have been nearly four times the cost of the roof in 2006 dollars.

But what about the NCAA and their promise to deliver a Final Four to Kansas City?

The NCAA is looking at four or five host cities that would become part of a permanent rotation. Indianapolis, which will build a new dome to host the Colts, will be part of that rotation. It's fairly certain that St. Louis and New Orleans will also be included. That leaves two cities in the market for the rotation. Kansas City is out because of the roof issue.

Why don't we go to St. Louis and ask them for the $70 million that counties in the western portion of the state gave to help pay for the TWA Dome back in the 90's? Add the $25 million the Chiefs were willing to kick in toward the roof, and this community might have found private money to pay for the balance.

If not, then maybe sports fans would be willing to pay a $1 service charge on all events at the Sports Complex to pay the balance.

That would equate to about $10 million per year if you added the Royals into the mix. But they'll never agree to it, so forget doing anything for them.

Realistically, Chiefs fans could pay the entire balance of the roof over the life of the lease. I doubt that season ticket holders would mind paying an extra $10 per ticket per season for the next 25 years if it meant putting a roof on Arrowhead and getting a Super Bowl or Final Fours to Kansas City.

If the Chiefs continued to sell 78,000 tickets per game over 25 years, that $10 surcharge would generate $195 million. If you add the $25 million the Chiefs are willing to kick in, that would exceed the cost and also take care of the roof's upkeep through 2029.

The Chiefs could guarantee any shortcomings through the balance of the lease and simply would have to front the cost. They'd be repaid without interest for the next 25 years. Sounds like an easy solution to me.

Will it happen?

Probably not, and once again our great city and community will be left in the dust for great sporting events and conventions that would generate millions of dollars for Jackson and Johnson County.

It's too bad our civic leaders are too chicken to do the right thing. It's all about the numbers.

Economic Impact – One Super Bowl - $5 Million

Economic Impact – One Final Four - $4 Million

Economic Impact – One Major Convention - $4 Million

Cost for the lack of vision from civic leaders, legislators and political agendas - Priceless

Strike three for Kansas City.

"We tried our very best," said Hunt, "but found that the combination of a lack of consensus from the various political interests, the business community and the Royals, as well as the need for promptness on the beginning of construction at Arrowhead would not permit us to pursue the rolling roof at this time."

Lamar, I'm sorry we let you down, but maybe someone will step up and take your words to heart. I, for one, vow to keep trying to find a way to put a roof over Arrowhead. I see your vision! Top Stories