The Kansas City Star, which is owned by the McClatchy Company, which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in February and was subsequently sold to a hedge fund, announced this week that it would be taking advantage of the bankruptcy filing to break its lease on its downtown headquarters and find a new home, while also moving its printing plant to Des Moines, which will make its reporting less timely because it will need to be printed in time to drive the actual papers down from friggin’ Iowa.
You may have a lot of questions about this, but if you are Kansas City radio station KCUR, the biggest one is: Is there a way that this news can be turned into a new stadium for the Kansas City Royals?
Rosana Privitera Biondo, a principal of Ambassador Hospitality [which has been the Star’s landlord since buying the building from the paper in 2017] … threw out one other intriguing use for the building, or rather for the land on which the building sits, although she refused to elaborate.
“It could be the possible new Royals stadium – tear down the building, buy our property, build across the highway,” she said. “Then we have the location for the Crossroads downtown, the walking paths that everybody in Kansas City says they want, and it would connect the Crossroads and the Power & Light [District] with the Sprint Center.”
Okay, sure, if I’m the owner of a giant commercial property — especially at a time when commercial properties are plummeting in value now that companies are realizing they can just make their employees work from their kitchen tables — I would take the opportunity to float the idea that someone could buy my land for a princely sum in order to build a baseball stadium on it, why not? Calling this idea “intriguing,” though, was KCUR’s decision, especially when it’s then followed by the statement that a new Royals stadium “seems to have picked up momentum” since the sale of the Royals to fossil fuel baron John Sherman last year, and the observation that “Kansas City is one of the few major league cities without a downtown baseball stadium.”
To briefly recap the story so far: The Royals already have a perfectly good stadium, one that was recently renovated at public expense and which is typically ranked in the top half of MLB ballparks in MLB ballpark ranking lists. The former Royals owner, David Glass, didn’t show much enthusiasm for a new downtown stadium, which didn’t stop news outlets like the Star from saying it was a good idea anyway; this just may have been influenced by the downtown business interests who were clamoring for baseball downtown, no doubt in hopes they could sell some of their property for a baseball development. When Sherman bought the team, the media drumbeat only increased (though the Star did editorialize against “any plan that significantly increases public spending for the Royals”), and Sherman said he’d consider it, and apparently this is what qualifies as momentum these days.
So, setting aside whether the Royals need a new stadium or who would pay for it, does the Star building site make any sense as a location?
That’s not at all big enough to fit even the existing Kauffman Stadium into, and keep in mind that Kauffman Stadium was built in 1973, before stadiums had to be five-star hotels as well as stadiums. Building a baseball stadium on the site would absolutely require tearing down at least a couple of blocks of additional buildings, but would afford the advantage, as KCUR writes, of being across the highway from K.C.’s indoor arena, which, I dunno, synergy or something somehow? KCUR can’t explain everything for you, it’s just an NPR station that fills half its schedule with BBC broadcasts, go figure it out yourself!
Anyway, now that I’ve both reported on this “news” and amplified it, I need to go shower off the stench of complicity. Is it too late for me to tell you not to read this post at all? You probably just read the headline and clicked Wow or Angry on Facebook anyway, so I guess no harm done, except that even the headline will probably be taken as a further sign of “momentum,” when really it’s just downtown real estate interests trying to gin up a clamor out of thin air so they can unload their crappy properties. Do not listen to them, people! IT’S A COOKBOOK!!!