When it comes to Excellence In Potentially Disastrous Ideas, there’s no group quite like the KC City Council. In the midst of the worst economic downturn in a generation, the City Council has decided it’s time to resurrect that old stalwart of urban development: the downtown hotel and convention center-o-rama. It’s an idea that’s helpfully trotted out every now and then, until the forces of reason realize it’s pretty much a foul idea — like building a sports stadium to spur development. Well, actually.. I suppose we should say that the City Council is only thinking about the idea. Or rather, thinking about thinking about it?
The Kansas City Council’s Finance and Audit Committee today endorsed spending up to $500,000 to further investigate the feasibility of a new downtown convention hotel…
The committee would consist of a mayor’s representative, seven council members, the city manager, city auditor, representatives of various minority groups, and experts in planning, finance, tourism, economic development, and construction.The group will investigate such issues as site selection, financial planning and community outreach.
Wait, what? Half a million dollars to investigate the feasibility of an idea? When the city is broke?
Budget wisdom aside, we have to ask: why does everyone continue to think this is a great idea? Building a giant convention center and hotel, at the precise time that groups nationwide are cutting down on conventioneering (witness the economic doldrums of The Meadows), is an unwise idea. Why the groupthink and the mass delusion? It’s just like how we all keep pretending TV On The Radio is a good band. Sure, the hotel idea looks interesting and makes the occasional intriguing sound. But underneath the tantalizing surface, it’s just terrible.