Kansas City Should Learn From St. Louis’ Mistakes
I don’t have much time to expand on this, because I have a flight to catch, but I see in the Kansas City Star that the city is beginning the process of studying the potential for a new downtown convention hotel. Reading the article — and even more so the comments telling Kansas City to do this and be a “big league city” — I got a sense of déjà vu. St. Louis went through every stage of this a decade ago, before a new downtown convention hotel was built with significant government involvement (i.e., tax credits, etc.). How has that worked out for St. Louis? Well, it is a very nice hotel, but it was recently sold on the courthouse steps to its creditors after it could not meet its bond obligations.
Kansas City should focus on creating a competitive environment for businesses. Then, if there is a real market for a new hotel, somebody will build it. If nobody steps up to do that, then there probably isn’t a market need to begin with. And, before you just assume that the hotel will attract all the new conventions necessary to pay for it, just remember that every single city in the world is planning for the exact same thing.
The Star’s editorial board struck the right tone for this issue a few weeks ago.