Hearne: Time to Pull the Plug on Bad Baseball, Bad Investments in KCK

Time to call a spade a spade…

Not only is the Kansas City T-Bones baseball team a really lame joke, it’s a failed business operation that’s been bleeding Wyandotte County taxpayers the get go.

First a correction for a common mistake that Steve Vockrodt made in his story in Tuesday’s Kansas City Star calling the T-Bones as a “minor league team.”

The Bones have no claim to being in the minor leagues.

To be a Minor League Baseball team you have to be affiliated with Major League Baseball – no two ways about it.

Minor league baseball teams range from Triple A at the highest level down to the Rookie Leagues.

The T-Bones are an Independent League team, which is below the lowest of the low in the minor leagues. Accordingly the quality of play is way below that of the lowest minor league teams.

As I wrote two years ago, the odds of a T-Bones player making it in the majors is dwarfed by the odds of them landing a gig sacking groceries or riding a trash truck.

The campy novelty of the T-Bones honeymoon didn’t last long.

Seven years in the T-Bones original league folded and the team was forced to join the fledgling American Association.

In 2013 KCK had to kick in $174,000 so the Bones could pay the mortgage on the team’s ballpark. After which in order to pull the T-Bones chestnuts out of the fire, the county stepped in and purchased the ballpark to ensure the team’s “long-term tourism success.”

That deal set Wyandotte County back $5.5 million in 2014.

Now with attendance down 25 percent from 2010 the Bones are trying to negotiate their way out of nearly a half million dollars in overdue utility bills and penalties.

Since when have individuals and businesses been allowed to not pay their bills without their utilities being cut off?

One Wyandotte County official claimed recently that if the Bones were allowed to fold, the Board of Public Utilities would get “zero dollars back.”

Hold it right there…

What part of the Bones mountain of red ink does Wyandotte County not get?

How long do they plan to continue putting good money after bad for a third rate sport, an organization that’s obviously not making it and that would be missed by precious few?

Hey, parents who want drag their kids to KCK to see bad baseball they can either watch their kids play or stay home and catch the decline of the Royals for free on TV.

Seriously, the T-Bones didn’t even get the name of Kansas City’s famous steak – the KC Strip – right. Who are they kidding – who are we kidding besides ourselves?

Game over.

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24 Responses to Hearne: Time to Pull the Plug on Bad Baseball, Bad Investments in KCK

  1. CG says:

    Wow Hearne great story. I had no clue they were not doing well. I am out at Legends and they seem to draw well. That was when we were here from 2007-14…don’t know now. I was surprised they were so ‘hot’ with a no league team…I didn’t get why they drew so well, I though it was the cheap tix and kids wanting to just see baseball with dad. Man no clue they were doing this poorly.

    Legends is still way out there for most. In an era of stay close to home unless you must go somewhere to get something you have to have, like the Chiefs, Royals, a concert…its a no go…KCK had hoped to grow around Legends, but it really hasn’t much. Population has gone up just 7,000 in ten years. Yikes…Most of what the area offers is available in town, Oak Park, Plaza, etc….yes there are a few exceptions like Nebraska Furniture and Cabalas, not sure how their numbers are today. The soccer team seems to draw…everyone thinks NASCAR is a big deal but it doesn’t draw people to the shopping mall at all. Those folks come in day of race, stay on the lot of the race track which is really a couple miles away and don’t move. People think the area is packed with race fans and stay away those weekend. Strange, huh.

  2. Rainbow Man says:

    Good piece. Totally relevant. The Legends is a great area.. many things click out there. T bones do not.

  3. Guy Who Says What Others Think says:

    CG hits the nail on the head. Legends is just too far away from the major population centers. Not to mention that each section of the metro seems to have it’s own entertainment complex/shopping of some sort.

  4. The Word says:

    “KCK had hoped to grow around Legends, but it really hasn’t much. Population has gone up just 7,000 in ten years.”

    You want to know the reason for that? The non PC version of that? Its easy…

    You have a mayor who bragged to La Raza years ago that whites have left the county in droves. The mayor also bragged that 62 different languages are spoken in their public schools. The mayor and most of the Unified Government take pride the fact that Wyco is one of the few democrat strongholds in a very bright red state.

    Yet, Wyco is also the highest taxed burb in the metro with the highest crime rate. Also with the largest poverty rate of the local burbs as well as the state of KS.

    That’s why the population growth is small. No one moves to Wyco. At least not Whites or middle class families. You were either born and raised in Wyco or you leave once your in your mid 20’s.

    If you took a poll of ever Cerner employee in that complex by the speedway where they live. I bet you anything 90 percent would say Joco or the Northland.

  5. ILoveAmerica says:


    Going to the comedy club was my introduction to Legends. I notice you’ve returned to Legends, and I wish you great success.

    I have been under the assumption that Legends was fairly successful. Your decision to return seems to me to reinforce that assumption.

    Legends seemed to identify a collection of niche markets. The development lacked a strong enough anchor to justify its size, without more surrounding population density; however, among those niche markets, they were able to draw enough mid-level anchors. Soccer is the fourth most popular sport in the United States, but not nearly as popular as football, basketball, and baseball. NASCAR is enormous, but only causes significant stimulation to the area twice a year, and from you comment out seems most of it is realized out of the district. Nonetheless, there is still value in the skyline value of the track.

    Further, Legends possesses a strong collection of retail establishments. Nebraska Furniture Mart, Cabelas, and the outlet stores as a whole are a solid retail collection offering a product that is different from the other districts you mentioned. As a collection it seems to me they draw a not insignificant amount of destination shoppers. Their offerings appeal to a very important demographic that values quality and brand name, but also realize they didn’t get to a point in their lives where they could afford these things by spending money foolishly.

    You are the entrepreneurial business owner in the area, and should be the most qualified here to give an opinion on how Legends is and has performed. (I don’t say that to stoke your ego, but I always tip my cap to the true risk takers from the man that sold pet rocks to the guy that hangs his shingle with not a client to his name). Am I of base on my assumptions regarding Legends?

    • CG says:

      Yes Legends is well done, one of the nicer shopping districts in the nation. It’s huge. The problem is population. The developers needed to build more affordable apartments and housing all over that area. They did add some nice apartments, pricy, some housing just not enough. I understand those are in the works.

      The owners of the mall keep it up nicely. There are some very good eating spots, shops and fun places, just need more people at night and more night life. It’s kinda family area. No violence and safe, great security. So maybe things will change in the near future.

  6. ILoveAmerica says:

    Mr. Christopher,

    While I await moderation, I turn my attention to addressing your point. I respectfully disagree with pulling the plug on the T-Bones, and it has little to do with the T-Bones. A baseball facility is unfit for repurposing, and a vacant property is not beneficial to Legends as a whole.

    The obvious solution to Community America Park (CAP) is to land a Minor League Baseball team. Given there is a Major League Team in the immediate market I find this highly unlikely. I believe the reasons for this obvious.

    The only feasible use for a baseball facility is a conversion to event space similar to Sandstone. I personally think this would be a fantastic use of CAP. But, what are the implications to the Renaissance Festival, and Sandstone? Importantly, I have zero qualification to say if CAP could even be repurposed in such a way. As it stands CAP can seat 11k and Sandstone can accommodate 18k.

    If Community America Park cannot land a minor league team, and cannot be repurposed, then it must be demolished and redeveloped. It would be a colossal mistake for an empty baseball stadium to sit in the Legends for any significant period of time. Until there are plans for such a redevelopment, it would seem to me unwise to scrap the T-Bones.

    Things can always be better or worse. The city could always purchase the T-Bones. Then they could segment the park into two separate experiences, similar to Wrigley Field. They could create a bleacher section and a seated section. Each section having its own ticket that only allows entrance to the appropriate experience. If they offered the bleacher seats for free, and sold the seated seats, then perhaps they would draw more people, and open concession opportunity, retail opportunity, and hospitality opportunity in Legends. Perhaps they would capitalize on the certain persons with an aversion to free things, and sell more seated tickets at the gate. Of course, they would have to accept the enormous risk, and outlay of cash funding, but that is not unheard of in the metro. Things can always be better or worse.

    • ILoveAmerica says:

      “If you owe the bank $100 that’s your problem. If you owe the bank $100 million, that’s the bank’s problem.”

      In this case the city is the bank, and the T-Bones the borrower. The city must be worried about the welfare of the entire district, that’s their responsibility. The T-Bones are the proverbial OG (Original Gangster), they were there from the beginning when there was significantly more risk. That’s not too say they are irreplaceable, but it must be a well thought out exit strategy. The T-Bones don’t owe $100 million to the city, but a sudden departure, followed by a prolonged vacancy, would certainly cost the county more that $100.

  7. KC Danimal says:

    The T Bones drew their best crowds when the Royals were losing 100 games a year and were over priced for the level of baseball played at the K. At 22-30, languishing in last place in the AL Central and with a fire sale imminent, perhaps the cycle is about to come back around and better days are ahead in WYCO.

  8. south joco is booming. legends is too farto go for anything. Except NFM.
    Clark is buildingan arena out south and will probabyput a soccer team in there.
    Legends is dead. We are headed to brick and mortar armageddon.

  9. another great article by hearne. Hearne this is a great article. It’s relevant and it’s written well and it’s something that no one seemed to know about. Nice job!

  10. The only hope of saving the t-bones may lie in one word: bring in Brockmire.

  11. Snappietom says:

    Is Baby boom boom actually Harley? Nobody writes that bad.

    • baby boom boom is the name.
      journalism is my game.
      I write fast.
      And for most it lasts.
      because everyone loves the laughs.
      boom boom is a significant name….it pertains to my national writings that
      according to alexa are booming. Plus its what the stock market is doing!@
      Baby boom boom has it all. See ya this summer.
      Still royals forever…and now “gettin ya up” !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! hahaha

    • CG says:

      Yes its Harley/JoJo/and who ever else he invents…he’s back.

      • hahahaha glazer.
        yes..I’m back.
        Did ya think I would stay away too long.
        Still love ya and the rest of kcc’s writers and commentators.
        Headed to lake today.
        Peace and love to all my fans/disciples and followers.
        Oh and what about all this trump stuff. I’ll be commenting
        soon on the impeachment.
        thanks for your comments and ink.

  12. Rainbow Man says:

    Hey good client… I have something special for you.. 2 Tickets to the T-Bones

    I think this is less about the Legends and more about a bad product. The T-Bones have struggled financially since day one. When they started out the Royals were terrible so everyone went to the T-Bones once or twice. Then they saw how bad the baseball is. The Bones owe a 6 figure overdue water / electric bill and asked Wyco for a bailout. But there are a lot of thriving things out there. I enjoy going out to the stores and restaurants.

  13. Harry Balczak says:

    I went to a t bones game once. An hour and a half in there had been innumerable walks the score was 9-6, and the game was still in the third inning. There are 12 year olds playing more entertaining baseball than the T bones!

  14. National shopping mall execeutive says 25-30% of all shopping malls willclose
    down in 5 years.
    Online shopping…online streaming will kill the retail industry….the casual
    dining industry will die also as more people choose to cook their own food…
    or get delivery….we are headed toward some tough tough times.
    Glazer…I found 15 channel that streamed the nba final on internet ….abc will
    die trying to get them back.
    Over 5 channels streaming 24/7 comedy ….how does your shop survive.
    The internet has killed off humanity!

    • CG says:

      For once some good points Harley. Yes the internet and young people not going out to anything much has hurt all entertainment, movies, comedy, shopping, eating out, all of it…and you happen to be on target. Its hard and getting harder for everyone. The studio’s for the most part only finance ‘franchise’ movies, like fast and furious, batman,spiderman, etc…real movies even by big film makers are hard to finance today…lack of viewers except overseas…over half the money for King of Sting is from Europe thats normal today…its a new world…like many I am not a fan. Yes sports is also taking a hit.

  15. admin….let me write editorial this weekend to all those who doubted me when i
    showed that trump was nothing but a traitor/liar/cheater/conman/cheat and how he
    has helped destory the very heart of america’s existence…and did it in just over a year.
    Because in the end….harley/boom boom was right!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • paulwilsonkc says:

      ^^^ Wow.
      Can this m-efr rewrite history, or what?
      Wrong on every single prediction.
      * Hillary will win.
      * You old losers will never see another Republican president in your lifetime..
      Then….his nationwide writing and Alexis rankings, but refuses to identify where those writings are.
      Yeah, give him space to prove how he’s always right. That should be cute.
      Then, let’s meet at Craig’s and compare your vs my May income/earnings.
      Got $10 grand, loser?

      • you’re unemployed boy. Probably final check from the
        have fun.

        • paulwilsonkc says:

          Pay up or shut up, f-stick. I’m a long way from unemployed. Meet the challenge or you’re as big a loser as we already know.
          I’ll bring invoices, checks and bank receipts. I may 4 times you in May at a minimum.
          Set the date, meet the challenge you old chickensh/t.

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