KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) _ Interstate-70 is no longer just another highway, and that may be the biggest residual from the all-Missouri World Series.
″One thing we can’t put a price tag on is the national exposure,″ said Robert MacGregor, president of the Greater Kansas City Area Chamber of Commerce.
″The main advantage to having the World Series is the tremendous showcase opportunity it gives the city,″ echoed John Stephens, director of marketing for the St. Louis Regional Commerce and Growth Association.
Kansas City had the upper hand on the field, with the Royals defeating the St. Louis Cardinals in seven games. But both cities - and, indeed, the state of Missouri - shared the rewards.
″Important business and political leaders saw firsthand what’s been taking place in St. Louis,″ Stephens said. ″This will have an effect when they think about doing business here in the future.″
″It helps us tremendously in the long run,″ MacGregor said. ″Important people were able to see the $1 billion construction boom going on here, the renovation projects. It has shown people that Kansas City is a big league city.″
The flood of attention focused on Missouri during the World Series will help the state expand its advertising markets, said Marjorie Beenders, director of the Missouri Division of Tourism.
″We are working aggressively to try to make a positive image for Missouri,″ she said. ″The series will help us as we expand into other out- of-state markets.″
There were also considerable short-term payoffs from the World Series.
Fourteen postseason games - the American and National League playoffs and the seven-game World Series - generated about $140 million for the state, Beenders said, with about $100 million of that pumped into the local economies of St. Louis and Kansas City.
According to Patty Nolte of the Greater Kansas City Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, each playoff and World Series game meant about $4 million to the city in the form of boarding, food and souvenir sales. About $1 million of that came from out-of-town wallets and purses, she added.
St. Louis, which has a larger metropolitan area than Kansas City, took in about $60 million, or about $10 million for three playoff and three World Series games, said Jack Walsh of the St. Louis Visitors and Convention Bureau.
Every major hotel in St. Louis and St. Louis County was filled during the run of the Series, Walsh said.
″They normally have a 67 percent occupancy rate in October,″ he said. ″So we’re looking at a one-third increase right there.″
It was much the same in Kansas City where, with the help of two conventions on the weekends of the World Series, area hotels were full, forcing some visitors to find accommodations as far away as Warrensburg, about 60 miles southeast of Kansas City. Shopping areas in both cities also enjoyed sizeable increases in sales.
″Restaurants and bars have had tremendous business, and there has been a spillover into retail,″ said Rob Benham, president of the Country Club Plaza Merchants Association and a store owner in the fashionable Kansas City shopping area.
Benham said retail sales ran about 20 to 25 percent higher than normal during the two weekends.
″If it was something to wear, and it was blue, we sold it,″ he said, adding that Royals come-from-behind performance seemed to put everyone in the buying spirit.
Although Kansas City and St. Louis received the majority of the money and attention, the state is the long-term benefactor, said Peter Herschend, president of the Missouri Travel Federation.
Herschend said ″the positive press that flowed to Missouri″ helped the state’s image, building on a process begun when the Royals played in the 1980 World Series and continued when St. Louis played in the 1982 Series.
The towns located along Interstate 70 between the two World Series cities also shared the wealth.
Columbia, about two hours from both Kansas City and St. Louis, was ″kind of a pit stop″ for people traveling to the games, said June Dodd, executive vice president of the Columbia Chamber of Commerce. The town sold a lot of food and fuel to all those people ″zipping up and down the highway.″