Hearne: Downtown Ballpark? Anatomy of a ‘Fake News’ Story

Talk about burying the lead…

They say a drowning man will clutch at a straw. Which appears to be the case at 18th and Grand as the beleaguered Kansas City Star dials sensationalism into every headline it can to try and keep its head above water as readership and revenues continue to plummet.

So instead of getting down in a three point stance and focussing on delivering a steady diet of quality local and area news-  rather than of two day old headlines about mass shootings –  readers get melodramatic, exaggerated stories about Kansas City being a “murder capital” and the like.

The latest:

Are Royals headed to downtown KC? City starts talks, studies four sites

Here we go again, kids…

Another trip to the PR plate once championed by former Star business reporter Kevin Collison, who practically single handedly lead the charge for a downtown ballpark a decade ago.

The above headline set off a wave of social media chatter that the Cowtown might at long last get its very own Wrigley Field a la the Chicago Cubs.

But here’s the deal.

It’s one thing to get a legitimate news scoop about something of the magnitude of this being in the offing. But trust me, if it were, the power players behind the scene would be playing their cards close to the vest and keeping low profiles unit such time as the ducks were lined up and they were ready to swing for the fences.

Which is not the case here.

Nope, in this “scoop” the players were more than happy to get the story out with their names prominently attached, just like Burns & McDonnell in its failed bid to waltz off with the new KCI airport deal.

Check it:

“The city of Kansas City is funding a study of at least four potential sites for a downtown baseball stadium for the Kansas City Royals, according to documents obtained by The Star,” the story begins. “A series of emails shows that Kansas City Manager Troy Schulte was involved in funding studies of four sites within the downtown loop that might be suitable for a baseball stadium.”

Now let’s get real.

Documents obtained by The Star? C’mon, this ain’t Wikileaks.

Does anybody really think the newspaper conducted some kind of investigation and uncovered top secret plans?

No way.

This is a clear case of the parties with vested financial interests using the newspaper to send up a trial balloon. And sure enough, right up top, the financial players likely to benefit directly from such a project take their bows.

Starting with sports architecture firm HOK,

“Others involved in the planning include Jon Copaken, principal with real estate development firm Copaken-Brooks, the Downtown Council of Kansas City, JE Dunn, The Cordish Co. and Tower Properties,” the story states.

Those kind of movie credits aren’t presented by accident, as a result of hard nosed reporting.

Conversations with the Royals are underway and “real progress” is being achieved, a conveniently leaked email from Copaken reads.

So will it really happen? Don’t hold your breath.

Here’s how a spokesman for the Royals put it:

“We’re perfectly content where we are, we think it works well. Thirteen years from now, who knows what the situation is going to be? I can’t hold anybody back from doing what they’re doing on their side. We would listen.”

Tres tepid.

Then there’s the matter of the half a billion dollars to build the stadium and finding parking spaces for upwards of 40,000 folks.

Pipe dream, anyone?

So is this a real “scoop” as Collison writes on his blog site CityScene KC?

Remember what I said about burying the lead?

Check out the final line in the story:

“Don’t get too excited yet because we do a lot of long-term planning,” Schulte said. “That doesn’t even mean anything is being contemplated.”

There you have it; from “real progress” is being made to “doesn’t even mean anything is being contemplated” in 22 short paragraphs.

So which is it, all the news that’s fit or all the news that fits?

You make the call.

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10 Responses to Hearne: Downtown Ballpark? Anatomy of a ‘Fake News’ Story

  1. CG says:

    With the new Downtown starting to grow with some speed and night life, yes a ballpark makes sense, more so on the Plaza who needs help and fast. If an NBA team had an indoor stadium at the Plaza say the area where Winsteds is today, and a large ballpark next to it for Royals and even Chiefs,yikes a big hit…and Plaza would thrive again…won’t happen for years if ever.

    • admin says:

      Except that you have to remember how much parking they would need for 40,000 fans and tailgating or whatever. And how much it would cost to buy up the land (especially on the Plaza) to pull it off.

  2. Kerouac says:

    “Are Royals headed to downtown KC?”

    – they are… right after the Chiefs move on the rolling roof approved back in June 1967.


  3. BOOM BOOM says:

    If the taxpayers in kcmo and jackson county want to build a new baseball stadium
    let them have it.
    current royals lease goes to like 2032.
    I’m not paying for it. Go ahead…build it.
    Means we joco residents can have a blast after the games with a few blocks
    Go ahead. Spend money you don’t have.
    I agree with you admin….i seriously doubt the taxpayers want to go in hock
    anymore. Aren’t they still paying 13 million a year for p and l?

    • CG says:

      Wow we agree on something Harly…yes the best future for an indoor or outdoor stadium is joco..but who knows if that will ever happen.

      • BOOM BOOM says:

        glaze bro….we agree on most things…except that you are not good at football picks.
        Besides you and I there’s nothing on here to read.
        We agree on most everything except that sometime you
        need to be brought down a few notches when you get over your
        But besides that we have a lot in common….love women/love to
        be movers/shaking shit up/are opinionated (but that makes kcc
        fun)….we’re both showboaters….
        so don’t get down on boom boom….without your stories boom boom would get bored working on new projects all the time.
        It’s fun to go back and forth with you…even though i’m the one who usually comes out ahead.
        Clark was supposed to build an arena in south joco…but probably will use the money in dallas. He just takes from kc.
        KC build a new stadium….maybe I’ll take the glaze to a game so he can see a game firsthand and not from his couch with junior on the phone placing his horrible teasers (had to throw that in)
        take care…because without you and me hearnes site wouod be just a site with ads and stories by southy and wilsonia about shoe cobblers and english lit!

  4. Rainbow Man says:

    I don’t think there will ever be a downtown stadium as long as ownership doesn’t want one. I used to support the downtown stadium concept but have backed off. 2014 and 2015 taught us that a winning team makes any stadium pretty awesome.

  5. Guy Who Says What Others Think says:

    There’s alot of hurdles to a downtown stadium, one being parking and the fact that KC has no real light rail system to bring people in from the burbs. Building a baseball stadium downtown near P&L might just benefit that district immensely. In fact I know it would. 2 million extra people per year in the P&L area? That might just get P&L off the taxpayer’s tit. But I just don’t think a downtown baseball stadium is going to get done, despite how good it could be. Right now after the game is over, everyone just goes home for the most part. Just think of all the extra sales tax revenue that is left on the table by not having any semblance of an entertainment district with bars and restaraunts nearby.

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