A naming-rights deal for Kauffman Stadium fell through after the Kansas City Royals and US Bank couldn’t agree on the terms of an agreement.
But they were close — close enough that the team had penciled in an announcement for last week, according to the Kansas City Business Journal. The big lure in a naming-rights sale, in this case, isn’t necessarily Royal fans: it’s having the US Bank name associated with the All-Star Game slated to be hosted at the ballpark this summer. It’s been no secret the team has been shopping naming rights for a long time (a rumored deal generated headlines last year), but it’s a move fraught with danger: the venerable facility is named for the late Ewing Kauffman, the man who brought Major League Baseball back to Kansas City after the loss of the Athletics.
Taking Kauffman’s name off the ballpark will surely piss off many Royals fans. It will, perhaps inadvertently, contrast the free-spending Kauffman (who notably signed George Brett, Dan Quisenberry and Willie Wilson to “lifetime” contracts — contracts that were actually a little less than advertised) with current owner David Glass, who has instituted the lowest payroll in baseball this season: some $35.7 million. Now, we’re not advocates of small-market teams spending a ton on payroll, and Glass and crew have done an outstanding job in rebuilding the Royals farm system — a move that could yield tremendously higher payrolls should the likes of Eric Hosmer continue to develop. But after accepting a lot of public money to update Kauffman Stadium and keeping payroll low, capitalizing on a naming-rights deal may not be the most popular public-relations move for Glass.
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