As we travel the rocky road that us mortals call life, often we run into situations where something doesn't appear to be what it seems to be. A friend who turns out not ot be a friend. Tiger Woods appearing to be be dedicated husband when he obviously was not. Those sort of items. Then, there is the ownership of the Kansas City Royals. David Glass is an owner reviled by many large market and hometown fans as what's wrong with small markets. Greedy ownership that pockets cash and doesn't spend money on his team. Won't go out and spend money and buy players to make the team good. True, the Royals have not been successful on the field for 15 years now, save for the 2003 season. But as Paul Harvey always said, now for the rest of the story, for the rest of this tale is one that few fans in baseball understand.
When David Glass purchased the Royals from the trust that Ewing Kauffman had set up, he agreed to forsake any profits from selling the team in the future. In short, no matter how well he ran the team, he could never really profit from it's growth in value. Keep in mind that he was on the original board Mr K set up and Glass bought the team in the end anyway because no matter how hard the committee tried, no suitable owner or group of owners ever seriously bid on the team. There was a bid from a Miles Prentice but just because you can hand over 120 million for a baseball team, MLB still requires a substantial net worth and Miles didn't have it. He would have not been able to withstand losses. David Glass was the only person who was interested in leaving the Royals in KC who had the money, MLB financial approval, and interest, mainly as a favor to his friend, Ewing Kauffman. A recent article in the KC Star points out the lack of interest in sports ownership the money families in KC have. Here is the article.
Lack of local investors would make it difficult for KC to get an NBA or NHL team
By SAM MELLINGER
The Kansas City Star
George Brett has the kind of life where he sometimes chooses between 18 holes in Hawaii or swimming with the dolphins. He usually takes the golf because he’s already done the dolphins and, you know, that can get a little old.
He has a friend who sometimes e-mails pictures from Lakers games with friendly taunts attached, like, just thought you’d like to see where I am, except this is not a game you win against Brett. He’s in Italy now and sent that friend a picture from Florence, Michelangelo’s statue of David up close. Touché.
This is all a way of reminding you that it’s good to be George Brett, because his world is like that On Demand button on your cable remote — save his desire for Kansas City to land an NHL or NBA team.
“No one stepped up in the past,” he says. “So for someone to step forward in the future, that means there’s gotta be someone new in town. And I don’t know anybody new in town with the deep pockets to do that.”
Brett is more than an observer here. He’s a potential participant, saying publicly for the first time that his family was contacted about joining a potential ownership group for an NHL team in Kansas City.
But he tried this once before, and a failed attempt at buying the Royals means he’s appropriately skeptical of a local group ever surfacing. He knows better than anybody why these little talks never produce anything substantial.
This all comes up during another week filled with reports about one team being in trouble, another team looking to move, and the natural progression to, Hey look! There’s the new team for the Sprint Center!
The future of the NHL’s Phoenix Coyotes continues to swish back and forth in a negotiation that could move the team to Canada or keep it in Arizona if the city of Glendale can help meet payroll. The NBA’s Pacers are asking Indianapolis to help with operating expenses, or else all options are on the table.
In all, more than a half-dozen NHL or NBA franchises may be up for sale or looking to move, and these are the times that bring to mind the burning confidence of AEG president and CEO Tim Leiweke’s in landing a team for the Sprint Center.
Except the same major obstacle exists now that did when Leiweke and others campaigned for public funding: no local owner.
Kansas City is bigger and has a better arena than Oklahoma City, for instance, but the Thunder plays five hours south of here because Clay Bennett is a rich Oklahoman who bought an NBA team and moved it.
Who’s our Clay Bennett?
“No, just not interested,” says Bill Hall, president of the Hall Family Foundation. “We have never looked at sports teams.”
This is how it is with all of Kansas City’s super-rich families. This is how it’s always been, part of why the Chiefs and Royals operate under out-of-town ownership.
Hall says the foundation’s interests are in “the overall health of Kansas City” and that the family “doesn’t see sports franchises as part of that strategy or vision.”
The Blochs, Stowers and Wards have traditionally operated in much the same way. Julia Irene Kauffman serves on the Royals’ board of directors, but has never indicated a desire to get into ownership.
None of this is meant as criticism. These families give to Kansas City in many other ways. The most obvious is the nearing completion of the $400 million Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts, funded generously by the Kauffman family.
That’s great for the local arts scene, but a zero for Kansas City’s chances at an NHL or NBA team.
What it means is that any movement will need to come from an existing or purchasing owner wanting to relocate. The NHL’s Los Angeles Kings could be an emerging possibility, and are owned by AEG.
But even then, our hopes are reliant on something like an out-of-town savior, with presumably no vested interest in Kansas City.
Brett says he and his family will continue to listen to potential investors, but there’s a reason nothing’s come of it yet.
“To get a franchise here,” Brett says, “really, that would be extremely difficult.”
He talks for a few more minutes before excusing himself to get back to his vacation. He’s in Italy, you remember, waiting on the dinner being prepared for him. Yes, George Brett can make many things happen in this world.
But he needs help with this one.
So, the article very nicely points out that KC is indeed an unusual place when it comes to people rich enough to be sports owners. There are many in town who have done very well. Lot of folks arond KC with 50-100M in assets. We just lack the super rich, thats all. Without one of them, there is no NHL, no NBA, and no one local, with area ties and interest, to purchase the team from Mr. Glass and keep the royals in town.
Baseball is still in KC thanks to the Glass family. Without him our fair city is the AAA affiliate for the Cardinals or Rockies. They don't just pocket the cash from team profits. That money goes back into the team and some of it, about 25 million plus, went into the Royals portion of the remodeling costs to the stadium here. The arguments that this group is greedy isn't so. Yet, the last 15 years of baseball frustrate the baseball soul of even die hards like me. Maybe we can rack up the losses more to ineptitude rather than callousness. Maybe David glass is finally learning that you really do not want to 100% run your baseball team the same way you run the world's most successful retailer.
So now you the reader have a hopefully better idea of the situation here in KC. For all the pluses and minuses with the Glass family, at least we still have a major league team here. Somehow the idea of the Charlotte or Carolina Royals tuns my stomach in ways a tummy should not bend. Bad baseball beats no baseball.
And for those who still want Glass to sell the Royals, just remember, be careful what you ask for. You may end up with the full brunt of the law of unintended consequences being applied to your request. Once he sells, there are no guarantees they stay here.