Kansas City Should Thank Clay Chastain For NFL Draft At Union Station

Some claim that we're at the end of history and artificial intelligence along with political ideology is slowly replacing our collective memory of the past. 

If so, then all we can do in this humble, digital space is offer a few words in order to document a story of Kansas City that is slowly vanishing.

Today, tens of thousands of 2023 NFL draft partygoers probably don't remember that Union Station used to be a dump not so long ago . . .

In fact . . . 

There was very serious consideration into the idea of demolishing Union Station. 

In the late 80s into the early 90s, Union Station had fallen into disrepair and TENS OF MILLIONS OF DOLLARS required for renovation seemed out of reach for a Midwestern city that had been losing population over the course of a generation. 

At that moment, Clay Chastain was the loudest voice in Kansas City desperately advocating Union Station preservation. He gathered petitions, spoke repeatedly on camera and drove home the idea that this monument to America's greatness was too valuable to lose forever. He also championed the structure as an engine for economic development. 

30 years ago . . . Clay Chastain saw the future and realized that events like today's NFL Draft would one day materialize. 

To be fair, the specifics of the bi-state tax commission garnered other notable supporters and legions of lawyers and lawmakers who also bought into the idea after Mr. Chastain helped convince them of the possibilities. 

Another reminder of today's progress and how quickly fortunes can change . . . 

Can anyone imagine Missouri & Kansas collaborating on a tax increase nowadays???

Still . . . 

Critics of Mr. Chastain often overlook what might be his greatest contribution to Kansas City. 

Voters are mired in a litany of culture war along with the antics of agenda-driven protest groups and have forgotten the work involved to create the luxuries we enjoy today. 

But for a moment, if only on Friday, we wanted to acknowledge that Clay Chastain gazed upon a dilapidated building that was only home to a few train rides and a nasty lobster restaurant . . . And he imagined events of nationwide importance & enjoyment like this week's NFL draft. 

Union Station is now KC's signature event space like a much smaller & politer Times Square in New York City, Red Square in Moscow or the Zócalo in Mexico City . . . Like it or not, that kind of ambition for this cowtown will NEVER come from the local political elite.

Caveat . . . This is not an endorsement of Clay Chastain's current run for Mayor. 

We're merely noting that supporters of incumbent Mayor Quinton Lucas will chide Clay Chastain for his dearth of political experience, his fantastical ideas about mass transit and his off-beat style. 

But after four years we still don't know much about Mayor Q's plans for Kansas City.

Meanwhile . . .

Tens of thousands of people, today, are enjoying a vision that Clay Chastain helped craft more than 30 years ago. 

Developing . . .