Friday, February 11, 2005

No Downtown Stadium? We'll See.

The Royals and David Glass held a press conference today to announce that they will not support a downtown stadium -- for now. Instead, they'll focus on the sales tax initiative in September that will provide money for modest renovations to the K and play out the string until 2014 -- when their lease expires.

My fellow Royals fans are up in arms on the Royals board, but I'm not buying it. Lots of people are giving Glass grief for being "cheap" or "uncommitted to KC" for not supporting a downtown stadium. I think his statements today were more about GETTING a downtown stadium than not, but in any case, what do fans expect from Glass? Do they think he should cough up tens or even hundreds of millions of dollars of his personal fortune to invest in a baseball stadium just because he's rich? Does he REALLY owe that much to Kansas City?

Glass didn't become rich making large, risky investments like baseball stadiums in the smallest markets with little expectation of support. Why should he not expect complete public support for a stadium when so many of his fellow owners are getting it? Milwaukee and Cincinnati - the two smallest markets - secured new stadiums with full public funding. I don't support public spending for stadiums, but David Glass sure should.

I'm not a huge David Glass fan, mostly because he's disingenous, as I explained in my prior post. He likes to give the impression that he COULD invest money into the Royals if he wanted, but there's just never seems to be a right time. I wish he'd just be honest and say its foolish to spends boatloads of money on free agents in a place like KC, because they'd just end up with a team of second rate players - like the Devil Rays circa 2000.

But this stadium criticism is unwarranted. The Royals just put all of their weight behind a big stadium proposal - Bistate II 3 months ago, and they lost (thankfully, because it was a bad idea). A downtown stadium is a better idea. But I don't expect the Royals to jump on a new bandwagon simply because a few mouthpieces in high places think a downtown stadium is a great plan.

I still think his "rejection" of a downtown stadium is a carefully orchestrated tactic to create more leverage to actually GET a good stadium deal, whether its downtown or not. He's trying to create the impression that the Royals will make modest improvements to the K, play out the lease -- and move somewhere else. I thought the subtle relocation hints would begin after Bistate's failure, and sure enough, here we are. The threat of leaving KC is the Royals' biggest bargaining chip - and Glass has just started to play it.


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