the nostalgia this summer has brought us, courtesy of the Kansas City
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
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
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
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
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Her blog is at www.kconkc.blogspot.com.