Rebutting Chris Suellentrop’s “Hard Times in the Paris of the Plains”


I decided I really didn’t like this piece anymore, but I’ll leave it up since I wrote it and tweeted about it. Chris said a couple things on 610 Sports with Nick Wright that made some of what I wrote incorrect, especially the last part about the KU/MU thing so I’ve crossed that out.

About a month ago, launched as the brainchild of my favorite sportswriter, Bill Simmons. There’s a lot of back story to its genesis, but I’ll skip that – the point of the site, to me, is to cover sports and pop culture in a long-form manner that doesn’t get done very often in this era of TMZ, Twitter and instant analysis. So far, I’ve enjoyed the site a lot – it’s got a ton of talented writers covering all sorts of different topics.

Last week, the biggest Royals fan I can think of (Rany Jayzayerli of Rany on the Royals) wrote a Grantland column about the historical ineptitude of KC’s hometown team. Though a bit depressing for Royals fans, it was all true and can’t really be disputed.

Today, another column about Kansas City appeared on the site, written by Chris Suellentrop and titled “Hard Times in the Paris of the Plains.” Its intent was to discuss the failed attempts to bring a NBA team to Kansas City’s Sprint Center and how that feeds into the Midwestern inferiority complex that we (supposedly) have. Though Chris had some good points, I really took issue with a few things he said and want to offer my counter-opinion here.

“Currently the Sprint Center is home to an arena football team and not much else.”

While it’s true that there is no anchor tenant at the Sprint Center (other than the Kansas City Command, formerly the Brigade), the lack of a NBA/NHL team has probably helped the arena overall, as it was ranked by Pollstar Magazine (the concert industry’s leading trade publication), as the 5th busiest arena in the United States and 12th busiest in the world. From the Kansas City Star: “In 2010, Sprint Center hosted 17 of the top 20 North American tours, including Bon Jovi, Roger Waters, Michael Buble, Lady Gaga, Paul McCartney, Elton John and Billy Joel, Justin Bieber, the Black Eyed Peas, and James Taylor and Carole King.” Those rankings are for concerts only, so undoubtedly, Kansas City would not be ranked as high if sports events were included. However, the Sprint Center is home to the Big XII Men’s Basketball Tournament and has hosted event like WWE, PBR and others. The point is; the place is not sitting there unused like Suellentrop makes it sound.

“I didn’t know yet that if you want to do something reasonably creative for a living and get paid for it, pretty much the only way to do it in Kansas City anymore was to write for Hallmark cards.”

This is, without a doubt, the most untrue line in the entire piece and the only one that was truly offensive to me. Since you’ve been gone since the late 90’s, Chris, let me catch you up on the creativity of town you grew up in:

  • The Crossroads area fills up every month in a celebration of this town’s artists and other creative people called “First Fridays” –
  • The American Advertising Federation – Kansas City (AAF-KC) is one of the biggest AAF chapters in the country. Just last month, its members won more National ADDY Awards than any market outside Chicago or Los Angeles. KC’s large marketing/advertising community is home to clients like McDonald’s, On the Border, Krispy Kreme, Gatorade, Ford (Canada), Kellogg’s, and many, many more.
  • Incredibly gifted photographers like rw/2, Ron Berg, Austin Walsh, Alistair Tutton, Nick Vedros and David Morris all call KC home.
  • The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art added on the architecturally-renowned Bloch edition a couple years ago and it, along with the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, are both world-class art museums.
  • Oh yeah, Hallmark is still the industry leader too.

“Though as a Kansan, I am trying to be mean to Missouri, even though I went to journalism school there. In Kansas City, collegiate rooting affiliations are bound by blood and soil, not matriculation. I root for the Tigers in journalism and for the Jayhawks in everything else.”

Where to start with this one? It doesn’t matter where you grew up; it matters where you went to school. A lot of Kansans used to do this split loyalty thing and say they rooted for Kansas State football and Kansas basketball. But splitting loyalties between KU/MU is far worse than that – sorry, Chris, but you forsake your right to cheer for the Jayhawks when you went to Mizzou. In case you didn’t realize, KU has a fabulous journalism school too, so the argument of going there for that program doesn’t really hold up. You’re a Tiger now, for better or worse, so please donate any Crimson & Blue you have to Goodwill and embrace your Tiger-ness.

I know you wrote some of this lightheartedly but it’d sure be nice if Kansas City wasn’t stereotyped and bashed nationally by a guy who thinks of himself “as a resident out-of-towner in New York.” Maybe it’s time you came back and saw some of what’s happening in this town – you might be surprised.


2 thoughts on “Rebutting Chris Suellentrop’s “Hard Times in the Paris of the Plains””

  1. The best part of living in KC is that the majority of the self-important, self- loathing natives like Chris seek “purpose” and “meaning” on the East Coast. KC is a better place without these folks, its just a shame that this flawed piece ends up on a national website.

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