Wednesday

Downtown stadium movement starts to get serious...



In a media event today at the Liberty Memorial, the Downtown Council of Kansas City unveiled its plan to build a new stadium for the Royals in downtown KC. They wheeled out all the bells and whistles, including a very convincing presentation, and they made a strong case that both the Royals and Kansas City would benefit greatly from a new downtown baseball stadium.

RC isn't sure what to think. First and foremost, we must say that we LOVE Kauffman Stadium. It's our favorite place in the entire world. And while we realize that it's old, run-down, and doesn't generate a ton of revenue, we also know that even if the Royals do get a brand new shiny downtown stadium, they'll still be operating from a competitive disadvantage, due to the market size.

Building a new stadium isn't going to magically erase the $180 million payroll disparity between the Royals and the Yankees. Just ask the Pirates. In fact, much of the increased revenue might be offset by the reduction of the Royals' share of revenue-sharing dollars. Frankly, we just don't buy the argument that a new stadium will make it easier for the Royals to compete. It's still going to take an intelligent small market approach to return the Royals to their glory days, regardless of venue.

We also have big issues with public financing for stadiums. Of course, Kauffman Stadium is already publicly owned, so the main issue here (unfortunately) isn't whether or not public funds should be used, but how they can best be used. And on this count, the folks at the DTC may have a shot at winning us over. The fact is that public money is going to have to be spent, either on renovation of Kauffman or on the construction of a new ballpark, and the folks in Kansas City are going to have to decide on what is the best possible use of those dollars.

RC has seen games at many of the new downtown stadiums, including the ballparks in Baltimore, San Diego, Detroit, Pittsburgh, and Denver, and we must say that it would be pretty sweet to be able to celebrate a KC victory in a bar near a new Royals stadium. In particular, Camden Yards and PNC Park have transformed their respective communities from dumpy, desolate eyesores to vibrant, exciting districts. If things are done correctly, there's no reason a similar renaissance couldn't happen in KC.

Now, it's no secret that RC is headquartered in the Northern Virginia/DC area, so some may question our credibility to discuss this matter. However, RC's heart remains in Kansas City, and the dirty little secret passing through the offices at our corporate headquarters is that an RC relocation to KC may be in the cards as soon as this coming July. We are in no position to confirm or deny these rumors, as the ultimate decision on this matter will most likely rest with an admissions counselor at the UMKC School of Law. But the point is, whatever is decided by the city in the coming year could very well have significant ramifications for the good folks who work at RC, in terms of taxes, traffic, etc...

Therefore, we broach this subject carefully, and we want to hear more. Renovations on Kauffman Stadium will be extremely expensive, as the DTC is correct in saying that a band-aid approach just won't work. Kauffman Stadium MUST undergo massive, expensive renovations to avoid defaulting on the lease with the Royals, so doing nothing is clearly not an option. Something has to be done, and today's press conference aided in making the options a bit more clear.

So take a look at the proposal and tell us, what do you think?

Editor's Note: RC also highly recommends that you check out Craig Brown's excellent piece on this issue over at Royals Authority.

9 Comments:

At 10/12/2005 3:05 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hmmm,

On one hand I always thought that a large number of Royal's tickets were picked up by families, church groups and summer vacationers from around the midwest. I'm not sure if these same people would attend as much at a harder to get to downtown stadium with worse parking (the K has the best parking in sports, I doubt this plan can duplicate that).
At the same time they'd probably sell more corprate boxes, and get a lot more young people and profesionals to attend.

It sounds silly, but pretty soon we'll be left with a couple olds parks (fenway and wrigley) and nothing else but new-fangled 'psuedo-retro' downtown stadiums. I'd like a little variety, and if you're going to keep one 70's style park, you might as well keep the best one.

I don't know what to think.
One nice thing though, a new park would be the final nail in the coffin of any contraction/moving the royals talk.

 
At 10/12/2005 9:48 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Last year, our VCR went on the fritz. Instead of spending $50 to get it fixed, I spent $70 on a new VCR/DVD combo. That is my philosophy on the repair v new debate.

Wisco

 
At 10/12/2005 10:40 AM, Blogger Dave said...

Good points. There is definitely something to say about the convenience of Kauffman Stadium and its massive parking lots. If you know what you're doing, you can zip in and zip out with minimal frustration. I usually go in the back way, by getting off 435 at 23rd street and coming in via Stadium blvd. It only takes a couple minutes.

In addition, I have to admit that I prefer going to Royals games when the crowds are a bit smaller. I like being able to walk up to the box office on gameday and get a good seat.

I have a friend from Cleveland who, during the Tribe's great run in the '90s, saw only one or two games total at Jacobs Field, because tickets were so hard to get. While I doubt a similar thing would happen in KC, there is no doubt that good seats would be much harder to get and much more expensive in a new stadium.

I paid $160 this season for two tickets in Baltimore for seats that would have cost about $50 total in Kansas City. In Philly, I wasn't able to get a seat that wasn't in the upper upper deck and well down the line, and I bought my tix weeks in advance of the game. The same goes for San Diego. It would really suck to see the same thing happen in KC.

Now, I understand crowded stadiums are a good thing for the team, financially and otherwise. I'm just saying that we should be careful what we wish for. A new stadium will attract all sorts of new idiots to the ballpark who couldn't care less about baseball, and those idiots will most likely have better seats than you. Are you prepared for that kind of frustration?

I don't want anyone to conclude from this tirade that I am against a new stadium -- I'm not. At least not yet, as I'm still deciding. For example, Wisco is absolutely correct that if you have to spend money, you might as well spend it on the option that is better long-term, even if it's a little more expensive. I just wanted to throw out a few cons that must be considered.

 
At 10/12/2005 10:55 AM, Blogger DL said...

I too am torn about the merits of publicly financing a new downtown stadium, but if it's going to happen, I like the idea of building a smaller, boutique baseball stadium downtown. It will seat between 25,000 to 28,000, which will make every seat more intimate, more scarce and therefore more valuable. It also acknowledges that the Royals operate in a small market and that they don't need to build a stadium the same size as they are in larger cities. It will leave much less of a footprint than a typical large stadium project, which I think would help integrate the facility into a surrounding retail and residential community much more easily (the big DT ballparks still tend to be fortresses, blocked off from the rest of the neighborhood). And it wouldn't cost nearly as much - perhaps half of the $350 to $400 million price tag.

MLB would probably never go for it, but I think it makes all kinds of sense. You can read more about it here: http://www.urbanplanet.org/forums/lofiversion/index.php/t2023.html

 
At 10/12/2005 12:13 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not living in the KC area anymore, I do like the easy in/easy out that Kauffman provides. I also like the layout of the stadium as it is unique and still attractive after all these years. Many memories.

In my neck of the woods, the Brewers decided against building downtown, opting to put the new Miller Park in an easier location to reach for those not from Milwaukee (like me). Most people now think that the downtown stadium should have been the better choice.

Wisco

 
At 10/12/2005 6:49 PM, Blogger royalsbeliever said...

I remain undecided on this issue. Despite hearing everyones opinions.

 
At 10/12/2005 8:29 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

First off, if my vcr broke, I would have replaced it with a DVD recorder ;). Secondly, why would anybody say they "want" smaller crowds, I would love for a Royals ticket to be a tougher ticket, you can't give them away right now and the team is going to go away if it keeps up, and finally, we need to spend this money on a new park that get some return on our investment instead of just throwing 200-300 million out the window. No, it's not going to fix baseball's economic problems, but it will help keep them here and it will help create a more vibrant city to keep young people here and bring in new people. Why is this town all about parking? A parking spot should be our symbol. When I go to games in Seattle or Denver or San Deigo, I could care less about parking, I just deal with it and have a good time. It's time for KC to start acting like a city instead of a giant suburb or we will find ourselves the 40th largest town in another 15 years and competing with Memphis and Buffalo for AAA teams. Sometimes,I think KC wants that.

 
At 10/13/2005 3:03 PM, Blogger COroyal said...

Good luck w/the law school apps skilled - longest 3 years of my life.
COroyal

 
At 10/13/2005 6:02 PM, Blogger royalsbeliever said...

I agree with the last anonymous that posted.

 

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