Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Tulsa wants the 2024 Summer Olympics. What about a Kansas City bid?

Posted By on Wed, Jul 24, 2013 at 9:00 AM

Flame on, Kansas City.
  • Flame on, Kansas City.

Tulsa has thrown its Stetson into the 2024 Summer Olympics ring. Well, until Mayor Dewey Bartlett yanked his support from the Tulsa2024 movement, likely signaling the end of the push to get the Olympics in Tulsey Town. Seriously, that's what they call it.

In Kansas City, we're Midwest hayseed dreamers, goddamn it. Former Mayor Mark Funkhouser timidly supported bringing the 2020 games here - "if the numbers work." Ultimately, a bid was never submitted. Hey, if Salt Lake City and Lake Placid could host the world's best athletes, then so could we. We've put together a list of ways Kansas City would benefit from hosting the megasports event. Step aside, T-Town, here comes the Cowtown Olympiad.

Abandoned schools become an Olympic Village.
The city has been trying for years to unload dozens of shuttered schools. Empty buildings make for blight - no different from abandoned homes or overgrown lots. The Olympics would be our excuse to renovate a few vacant schools and turn them into housing for the 2,000 visiting athletes. After the games, the village quarters could be sold as condos or rented as apartments. We're eyeing J.S. Chick Elementary, on East 53rd Street. Or Switzer Elementary and Switzer Annex, on Madison Avenue near the Crossroads District. Bonus: Instead of the vagabonds using the schools as flophouses, notoriously randy Olympians (each athlete at the London Games was given 15 condoms when moving into the village) could bump their toned uglies in the formerly abandoned buildings.

Downtown convention hotel gets built.
A downtown convention hotel has been KC politicians' white whale. They hunt it, not out of need but out of pride, and a misguided belief that a convention-zilla would finally make KC a real city. Enter the Olympics. Kansas City has about 32,000 hotel rooms, but the International Olympic Committee requires host cities to have 45,000 rooms. We're going to need a lot of Holiday Inns and Marriotts to pop up in addition to a precious convention hotel. Make that two hotels. Or 10. City officials would finally get the chip off their civic shoulders.

A massive, new abandoned arena for the West Bottoms.
You want the Olympics? You better dream big. How about replacing Kemper Arena - the little-used, rusting alien spacecraft - with a gigantic track-and-field edifice for the opening and closing ceremonies? And after Kansas City's 17 days in the international spotlight are over, board it up and stop using it, just like Kemper. A big expense for a short-term project? Sure. But then we'd have a newer, shinier, more impressive sports complex to ignore in the West Bottoms. Imagine, we could have Bird's Nest all to ourselves.

Convert Liberty Memorial to actual flame.
Maybe the most compelling reason for Kansas City to host the Olympics: We have a built-in Olympic cauldron at Liberty Memorial. Well, kinda. The monument appears to have a flame flowing out of the top, but it's really steam that's colored with lights. If we converted it to a gas-burning flame, it would make a helluva Olympic cauldron. And, at 217 feet, it would easily beat Torino's 187-foot cauldron for the record of highest flame to loom over the summer games. Take that, other Summer Olympic host cities. Ours is bigger.

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