August 19, 2005


Nostalgia doesn’t pay the bills
by Kerri Fivecoat-Campbell

Oh, the nostalgia this summer has brought us, courtesy of the Kansas City Royals.

In 1985, few of us had even yet seen a personal computer much less owned one; tweens had yet to be walking around malls with cell phones stuck to their ears in search of bling-bling (extra credit for those of you who can pick out the two words in that example that hadn’t even been invented yet) and Lionel Richie was more famous than his then four-year-old daughter, Nicole, which should be reason enough to want to return to 1985.

Here in Kansas City though, the big news that year was the soon-to-be World Champion Kansas City Royals, and it’s sad and rather pathetic that in 2005, two generations later, the big sports news here still is the 1985 World Champion Kansas City Royals.

In 1985, I was barely old enough to drink; I was single, and working full-time while attending college. Yes, pop culture, as well as the rest of our lives have went marching on, while the powers to be at “The K” are still reveling in the city’s one and only World Championship season. They hosted a 1985 Royals reunion at the stadium recently, which drew over 17,000 people in pouring rain.

Makes me wonder if the powers that be are trying to deflect attention from the pitiful team that plays baseball in our present, or if they are trying to build support for more taxpayer financed subsidies for renovation of their stadium.

This is not a sports column and I’m admittedly no longer a major league or pro-anything fan. I was as a child, I could get up on any given summer morning and after skimming the morning sports edition of the paper, tell you who was in what place in what division. I knew all of the Royals batting stats from Freddie Patek, Amos Otis, John Mayberry and George Brett to the pitchers stats. But those days are long gone.

One morning I opened the paper and no longer recognized any of the names. A few weeks later, it was different names, and so it went. And I’ve never been a football fan, particularly when the owners of our local franchise supports a political party I cannot stomach.

That’s partially why I have a problem backing any initiative for taxpayer-funded stadium improvements. It would, in effect, not only line the pockets of the super wealthy to give to political causes I don’t support, but it would also put more of a burden on people such as myself.

It isn’t that I don’t care if Kansas City has pro-sports. I realize I’m in the minority when it comes to my views on sports. I also realize that the pro political players in the Kansas City metropolitan area think we have to have pro sports franchises to be considered a major league player when it comes to attracting businesses that spur on economic development.

And, I can’t blame the Missouri side for wanting to stay in the game, particularly since Kansas City, KS won both NASCAR and the T-Bones in recent years. However, this squabble between the Jackson County Legislature and the owners of the Royals and Chiefs has become tiresome.

The problem, Scott Burnett, a Jackson County Legislator, told me, boils down to an agreement made with the teams 15 years ago on who would pay for stadium improvements. When Ewing Kauffman sold the Royals to out-of-town interests, he bought the team back when the new owner filed for bankruptcy. Over a 45-day period, two contracts were rushed out that had a 25-yer master plan.

“The dilemma,” Burnett said, “was the master plan called for state of the art improvements, and no one knows what state of the art means.”

Judging from plans that have been presented to the public, state of the art means anything from expanding seating and stadium club space to adding a retractable roof to the football stadium.

It looks to me as if the public just isn’t playing the game in the same league, having defeated a bistate tax proposal last fall.

The Chiefs haven’t won a Super Bowl in God knows how many years. The Royals are still reminiscing about their one and only World Championship bid and players in the franchise turn over twice as fast as the lights at a busy Johnson County intersection.

Supporters for a bistate tax say this is not just a Jackson County problem, all of the metro benefits from pro sports franchises and all of the metro should help pick up the tab.

“The bistate vote last November, well the timing just wasn’t right,” said Burnett. “Right now, it does look like this will fall on the citizens of Jackson County and they deserve a cohesive plan.”

Burnett told me in July that there are very good odds that the legislature will be able to come to some formula before Lamar Hunt, who owns the Chiefs and David Glass, who owns the Royals, make good on their threat to take their teams elsewhere, but they still haven’t drawn up this “cohesive plan” for the taxpayers.

Meanwhile, as the Royals skidded into an embarrassingly long loosing streak that is only being watched by statisticians who are doing the math on how long the team can possibly go without winning and people in the Chiefs’ camp are busy making excuses for their players, who seem more interested in piling up felonies during the pre-season than piling onto their opponents.

It seems to me the two super-millionaires would realize that the only time The K (it doesn’t even deserve to be called Kauffman any longer) can muster a decent crowd is when they bring back 40-to 50-something-year-old players from two decades ago; and the Chiefs would be hard pressed to find another city willing to bring so much support to a loosing team for so long.

No, these people, who aren’t accustomed to living in the real world, much less in the present one, probably should get into the same game as the people they’re asking to pay for their stadiums.

Otherwise, both parties might be disappointed when they find a new game in town. .

Kerri Fivecoat-Campbell can be contacted at Her blog is at


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