Michael Bushnell

Well, the Kansas City Royals dropped the new stadium bomb a few weeks back and it landed in the Crossroads District like the big, brown stink log that it is.

Let’s just get the housekeeping out of the way first, shall we? Royals owner John Sherman is a bully.  Any time you have to lead with the threat, and it was a threat, of using eminent domain to destroy the livelihoods of over two-dozen small businesses that have resurrected the Crossroads District from a blighted slum, in to an organically grown thriving Arts and Entertainment district, you’re a bully and your initiative deserves to go down in flames.

Let’s take a look at the numbers too.  Right out of the gate, this thrifty-minded pooch thinks if you can write a $200+ million check to a single player, you and your ownership group of brass hats can fund your own stadium, thank you very much.

But since you’re out here lookin’ for a handout, let’s talk about who pays, shall we? One thing nobody is talking about is the debt service on the bonds let in 2006 to fund over $100-million in renovations to the Truman Sports Complex.

That 3/8 cent sales tax funded Special Obligation Bonds, theoretically to fund stadium renovations and ongoing maintenance. Those bonds extend to 2031, seven years from now. Per the very confusing ballot language on this question, that tax would be repealed, leaving Jackson County taxpayers on the hook for $177 million, give or take a million or two. Who’s going to pay for that? If you guessed Jackson County taxpayers, you’d be correct.

And while we’re on the subject of bonds, one thing the Royals aren’t talking about is the fact that their organization squashed an opportunity to refinance those bonds in 2022, a move that would have generated roughly $13 million for Truman Sports Complex exclusively. According to a 2022 Kansas City Business Journal article, the Royals were concerned about a loss of “future flexibility.” Translation, they knew this was comin’ and they kept it hidden from us so they could get their way. That’s called deception, pure and simple.

In terms of the new tax, which, let’s be honest, that’s what this is, is a 3/8 cent sales tax that would extend out forty years, that’s four-zero, forty and fund both the present TSC and also the new ball-yard downtown.  To put that into perspective, if the April election is your first election as an eighteen year old person, you’ll be bumpin’ retirement age when these bonds come to maturation. That means you pay, your kids pay and your grandkids pay for Sherman’s folly long after you’re pushin’ up daisies. 

Some additional numbers we should talk about aren’t big in comparison but their importance can’t be overstated in terms of small business and its role in single handedly resurrecting a district of Kansas City that for decades was nothing more than a pass through, blighted, semi-industrial area nobody but the starving artists saw vision with.  

Thanks to the city’s artists community, the Crossroads District has organically and without any tax deferments, developed into one of the city’s coolest and funkiest destinations, filled with dozens of galleries, themed restaurants and bars and music venues. Over 95% of these galleries and destination joints are locally owned and operated, providing income and jobs to upwards of 2,000 Kansas Citians. Businesses like Green Dirt Farm at 1601 Oak Street or PokeSan, an Asian-themed restaurant on Grand Blvd. Over two dozen small businesses now lie in Sherman’s crosshairs, livelihoods and jobs to be destroyed, for no other reason than they stand in the way. But that’s progress.  Just collateral damage, right?

As a side note, the parking numbers don’t add up either. You don’t get to say “there’s a shortage of parking downtown” for a Chiefs victory parade then turn around and say “there’s plenty of parking downtown” just to make it fit your narrative. Given this news-coverin’ dog has to drive in circles for twenty minutes every time we cover an event downtown, pretty good bet you’re fudging on those numbers too.

And crime? Given the recent spate of violent crime in the downtown area, including the victory parade tragedy that took place in broad daylight, it’s a pretty good guess 25,000 people streaming out of a stadium after 10 pm in various states of impairment will create a target-rich environment for any street-thug with a weapon and an attitude.

But let’s be real. Our o’l buddy John “Mr. Empathy” Sherman doesn’t want to stay at The K because it’s a constant reminder of the legacy that Mr. K left the citizens of Kansas City. Well, that and the fact Mr. K still lives rent free inside of Sherman’s head – hence the reason for the move. Sherman’s ego is what’s at stake here and he can’t stand to be reminded that Mr. K was a man of the people, much like Lamar Hunt.

Ewing Kauffman started Marion Labs in his garage, making him the exact kind of small business entity Sherman is willing to bulldoze in order to erect his new ball palace. We’re pretty certain he gives that statue of Mr. K the side-eye and burns with resentment every time he has to walk past it through the doors at Kauffman Stadium.

Here’s the bottom line. The K isn’t crumbling as the media narrative might have you believe. It was gone over by local engineering firm Burns & McDonnell in 2022 and they gave it essentially a B+ in terms of serviceability.

In summation, a little note to John “Mr. Empathy” Sherman and his ownership pack of hi-hatted, millionaires, til you put a competitive product on the field on a consistent basis, you don’t get to dictate to the hard working entrepreneurs and taxpayers of Jackson County how things are gonna go down. 

Keep the Royals at The K. Period.