Take 5: The Power And The Light Of Kansas City’s Living Room

Brf_1mNCMAA4TuEKansas City has a living room and it is furnished in a cacophony of colors and hues to create a kind of chaotic chic. The Kansas City Live! outdoor gathering spot at the heart of downtown’s Power & Light District was showcased to the rest of the country via ESPN’s coverage of the World Cup the past two weeks. And Kansas City looked and sounded spectacular.

Mayor Kay Barnes pushed Kansas City to approve the unique tax financing package to build the P&L District in 2005 and the criticism has been searing and constant since that date.

Critics screamed that the new downtown development merely robbed Westport and The Plaza of dollars that would have been spent in these more established entertainment neighborhoods. The lack of a professional tenant inside Sprint Center meant too many dark nights in the P&L. The sales in the P&L are nowhere near the projected numbers that were meant to pay off the bonds. David Glass should have built a new baseball stadium next to the P&L. All these criticisms have a solid ring of truth to them.

The more important sound though is the one that bellowed from our city’s living room over ESPN’s network and the many tweets and YouTube posting of the scenes from KC’s celebration of the World Cup. The P&L might not make business sense to an accountant, but you will have a difficult time convincing me that this financial boondoggle isn’t one of the city’s greatest successes.

Sure, moan about the tax shortfalls of the P&L and the bars, restaurants and businesses that have come and gone. It’s what we do when it comes to reviewing our city’s past, present and future. We see dark despite the light. And there is so much light going on at the P&L that looking closely at its success might blind you.

The photos and videos from Kansas City Live! during the three USA World Cup games made me happy to be a Kansas City guy. Where did that kind of spontaneous public display of united ecstasy and lunacy take place before we had the P&L? It didn’t.

Talk to anyone who was there to experience it these past two weeks. They will convince you it was one of their greatest memories in life. That is the kind of excitement that Kansas City once lacked but now owns. When big national events occur now, Kansas City heads to the Power & Light District to experience them together. They come from Lenexa. They come from Raytown. They come from Peculiar. They come from Westwood. And they come young.

These people aren’t your 50-year-old Royals fans. These Kansas Citians are the youth of our city. The young professionals and transplants from Iowa, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Illinois and the coasts. Check the faces of those in the crowd during the World Cup. They don’t look all that different than those in the black-and-white photos from Woodstock. Somehow those crazy hippies grew up to build a pretty great country.

What the P&L might be lacking when it comes to producing tax dollars it is making up in cool. Kansas City is a cool place to live, work and enjoy life. We have always known that. The P&L is helping us send that message to the rest of the country.

Tax dollars are an important part of a community’s success. A healthy stream of young people moving here and making Kansas City their home is even more important for our future. A future that looks like an awful lot of fun.

[email protected] and Twitter @greghall24

About Greg Hall

Software guy who has been writing my Off The Couch column in KC newspapers, publications and websites since 1994. Has been bounced from some of the finest media establishments this side of State Line Road. Dad first and everything else second...and there are a lot of everything elses.

58 Responses to Take 5: The Power And The Light Of Kansas City’s Living Room

  1. Brummy says:

    Great story! The P&L was shown on the Daily Show this past well as well…even if it was misdirection.

  2. Guy Who Says What Others Think says:

    Out of town guests love P&L and it’s great for entertaining for business needs. There’s a reason why Cerner rents out the entire area during it’s annual health conference, which draws about 10,000 people downtown. I just wish there was an easier way to get to and from P&L from the burbs instead of driving. The same company that built P&L also built the new BallPark Village in St Louis. I believe St. Louis’ version will see more success because: A: It’s next to the ballpark that houses an extremely successful baseball team. B: The Metrolink rail runs from the eastern burbs right to the park.

  3. Kyle says:

    One thing ESPN did a great job of was informing me and the rest of the country that the P&L is in Kansas City, KS. I could have sworn it was in Missouri.

    • fred Flintstone says:

      Not a soccer fan, but I wondered aloud last night when i saw the crowds at Soldier Field in Chicago that drew tens of thousands of Chicagoans, why didn’t Sporting open Sporting Park, sell beer and hot dogs, and let the scarf wearers watch the WC on the big screen there?

  4. The Word says:

    Meh… Don’t buy the hype.
    http://www.tonyskansascity.com/2014/07/fact-check-despite-world-cup-hype-power.html?m=1

  5. Jimmy says:

    What a joke! The US team wins 1 out of 4 games and people are going crazy! 25% of your games are victories and you actually lose a game an advance! What!!!Glad we can stop watching this boring shit on TV!.

    • Hot Carl says:

      You mean like when the Chiefs lost 5 of their last 7 and advanced to the playoffs?

      • Fred Flintstone says:

        Again, forgive my stupidity, but once you get into the World Cup tourney, aren’t you IN the playoffs?

        Didn’t you have to qualify in to be there?

        • George Wilson says:

          The World Cup playing format is no different than the vast majority of international tournaments in basketball, hockey, the olympics, etc. Yes, you have to qualify to get there, just like in olympic team sports. And just like in olympic team sports including basketball, hockey, water polo, etc., once you are there you play a round robin schedule that determines who advances to the one and done portion of the tournament.

          Do you honestly think just because you have to qualify for an invitation to a tournament the tournament itself then has to be one and done?

  6. Larry says:

    Couldn’t agree more with you Jimmy! Now ESPN can stop shoving this shit down our throat!

    • Fred Flintstone says:

      With you Larry. If as they say, America is “hooked” on soccer, they’ll also watch the remaining games, and why wouldn’t the P&L still have large crowds as well? Can’t have it both ways, is America in love with soccer as a whole, or just our side? I love the patriotism shown, but let’s not confuse patriotism with passion for the sport.

      ESPN should still have a ratings hit on their hands if it has truly taken over. Don’t hold your breath.

      Seriously, they go 1-2-1 and get into the Final 8?

      • estoniakat says:

        You haven’t apparently being paying enough attention to know what their record was to advance, or how far they got.

        • Fred Flintstone says:

          And you’d be correct.

          And I don’t care to have you elaborate, no offense.

          • Paracelsus says:

            And yet you do care enough to comment negatively and dismissively every time someone breathes a word about a sport you clearly cannot or will not understand. Silly.

            • Fred Flintstone says:

              LOL, and your response would be the OTC blog version of a soccer player falling down, grabbing his ankle, crying to the referee 40 yards away for a foul.

              “..you comment negatively and dismissively every time…..”

              Wah, Wah, Wah.

              Too funny, soccer lover.

              • Paracelsus says:

                Actually not a soccer fan, but nice try. I just happened to notice you being a huge asshole/troll and thought I’d mention it. Do let us know when your negative attention threshold has been reached. Or don’t.

  7. Mikki says:

    Soccer sucks!!!!

  8. mike t. says:

    nice write-up, greg. those truths do ring loudly tho’. it’s events like this that make us look great, but far from tipping the balance. still, can’t argue your points.

    regarding soccer… I’m not a fan and don’t watch. for the most part, I find it boring… BUT… in getting a bit caught up in the patriotic aspect of USA in the Cup and having two local players on the team, I learned that I could, in fact, like the sport. and that came, folks, from listening to yesterday’s match on the radio. when you hear the play-by-play and color analyst talk, you get (I got anyway) a real sense of the action and strategy – that it’s more than a group of guys randomly kicking the ball back and forth and hoping for a open shot on goal.

    one commentator said as they approached the 90 minute mark, “This game just keeps on giving!” and I actually understood what he meant by that despite no scoring.

    I won’t wear a scarf, fred, but count me in as intrigued and willing to give the sport it’s due. I doubt that I’m alone in that.

    • Fred Flintstone says:

      Mike….I’ve got no problem with you, as I said you’re not confusing patriotism with passion for soccer.

      Ask yourself if you’ll be watching any of the other games leading up to (do you even know who plays/when the next game is?) the final, with a fervor anywhere near what you watched YOUR country’s team play?

      That way, you can decide if you are a soccer fan, or just a patriot. Hell I’m a patriot too, I wanted the USA to win. But I didn’t shed a tear when they lost (both times) I mostly enjoyed watching a kid from Johnson County on “Soccers Big Stage” and wanted him to do well.

      And I get it that you don’t wear a scarf, let your girlfriend or wife do that.

      • mike t says:

        my dogs wear one now and then too.

        I might watch a few more, but I can’t say it’ll be appt. TV for me with the US out of it. besides, as I noted, I got a lot more out of the game listening to the commentators on radio. just seemed more exciting to me.

        (full disclosure)… I like sports on radio period. much rather listen to radio commentary and watch on TV…. except when then the time delay is too long.

      • BlackJack says:

        Okay, but by that rationale, does the casual Royals fan really follow the MLB playoffs if the Royals are not in it? Does the MU basketball fan really make the NCAA tourney “appointment TV” when MU did not qualify, and especially once KU was eliminated in the 2nd round?

        Soccer is no different from the other sports; once our team is out of it, viewership goes down quite a bit.

        And it’s not just a “patriotic thing” either – I do not recall thousands of ppl showing up at watch parties following the Olympics fervently for men’s curling, or the hockey games this past Olympics. Soccer in this country is not as huge as fans wish it was (those MLS TV numbers are concerning) but has a very solid, growing foothold that the haters are simply in denial over

  9. Tim says:

    I am with Jimmy…. What kind of sport is when the fans celebrate after a win! A bunch of pussy’s falling down acting like they are injured the entire game. Soccer players are basically weak athlete’s that were not good enough to play American football!!!

    • Fred Flintstone says:

      At my school, soccer players were the athletic leftovers. After all other sports chose the premier athletes (including Lacrosse) and all that was left was the kids who couldn’t make the other teams, or were kind of “puny” those kids played soccer, and ran cross country. That doesn’t make them bad people…….

      • Alphonse Tooty says:

        Things have changed a little since the ’50s.

        • Juan Pablo says:

          Not much has changed. My son is in 6th grade and he and all his friends played soccer when they were young. After they started playing basketball, baseball, football about all the kids stopped playing soccer. the few kids that continued to play soccer were the small kids or the bad athletes that could not play any sport.
          Another thing about youth soccer it costs a lot of money if you want to be on a good team with good coaches.. This also eliminates a lot of the best athletes.

      • Kyle says:

        I’m not a soccer fan and hardly watched any of the WC. However, soccer players are phenomenal athletes. They run an average of 9 miles per game.

    • Billy-bob says:

      True…wait, why does the punter fall down and grab his leg on every punt? Wait, lots of QBs flop also. But the guys who carry the ball don’t flop (bc of obvious reasons)! Although they wear a ton of protective gear unlike rugby and soccer. Besides all these obvious contradictions, you get my point (spits in patoon).

      • Fred Flintstone says:

        The punter falls down and grabs his leg on EVERY punt? Really?
        QB’s flop? Um, maybe to avoid 300lb men from falling on them…
        Rugby & soccer in the same sentence? LOL, LOL, LOL, LOL.

    • BlackJack says:

      Lazy-ass comment.

      Obviously you have never played the game. Except for shin guards there is padding, players collide with each other at full speed, it is every bit as and more physical than basketball

      So I guess NBA players are pussies too, eh?

  10. Steven says:

    I have to ask how many were honestly happy to see us lose? I tried to get into the games but it was like watching paint dry. NO action and No scoring! Good lord how can they allow a game to end in a tie. Have a damn shootout and you might have people interested more than every 4 years!

    • mike t. says:

      steven… not being a soccer apologist here, but how can there be ‘no action’ when these guys are moving that ball around practically non-stop for 45 minutes a half, and extra minutes to boot if no score? my take is that is that action is all tied up in trying to get into position to score while the opposing team is trying to maneuver their defense so you can’t. this is what I picked up from listening to the play-by-play and not watching it.

      • Joe Blow says:

        People always say that, but they do stand around for long periods of time each “possession”. Of course, US players appear to be scared of the ball, so they just give the ball back to the other team instead of even trying to score a goal..

    • Juan Pablo says:

      I tried to watch the game. But after about 15 minutes the announcer said no team had scored in the first half of the elimination games. Then i realized there is a real good cahnce nobly will score or only one goal will be made the entire game. Common sense took over, WTF am I watching this for and turned it off.

  11. Bernie says:

    It’s a shame they put an old school video board down there instead of a nice HD screen.

  12. Willie The Wildcat says:

    Face it. The P&L was a boondoggle costing the citizens of KCMO millions of dollars each year. The P&L steals needed money for road repair and school improvements. It’s similar to refusing to pay your past due basic home utilities but finding the absolute need for expensive steak dinners each night and wonder where the money is going. This is nothing but true fiscal maleficence.

    • Juan Pablo says:

      I agree, but without the P&L downtown KC would be a complete disaster. I hope it pays off someday.

  13. Hank Hill says:

    Who cares? Its soccer. Soccer is the sport the girly boys play. I don’t want the US of A to be good in this stupid game. In America we play real football. I’d like to see those girly boys who are prancing around the soccer field put on some pads and take a hit from a 250 pound linebacker. They’d go runnin to their mommas I tell you what. And I sure as hell won’t let my boy Bobby play soccer. Bobby isn’t the most athletic kid in the world and we’re still working on his interest in sports but he’s gonna be a football player. Oh who am I kidding. The boy aint right. But he aint playing soccer. Yep.

  14. Rick says:

    Somebody better go check on Nate Bukaty. Dude sounded like he was going to jump off a bridge. So glad the Soccer talk will finally be over. Cannot stand Bukaty’s Soccer blabber.

  15. Tigerpiper says:

    Ask Jim McMahon how great a sport football is.

  16. The Word says:

    Off topic… But congratulations to Billy Donovan and coach Cal being named the top two college basketball coaches by ESPN. Not bad for a football conference…
    http://m.espn.go.com/ncb/notebook?page=top50coaches1

  17. Ptolemy says:

    “Somehow those crazy hippies grew up to build a pretty great country.”

    Huh?

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