After evicting the Kansas City T-Bones (independent; American Association) this week, Unified Government of Wyandotte County/Kansas City will consider a new ballpark lease with a prospective ownership group led by a local businessman.
On Monday, the UG officially evicted the T-Bones from Just Bats Field at T-Bones Stadium, citing default on rent and utility payments. Team ownership issued a statement in light of the eviction saying that it was “progressing toward a sale,” and a UG vote on Thursday could help move plans for new ownership forward.
As part of Thursday’s vote, the UG will consider a proposed five-year lease with prospective new owner Max Fun Entertainment LLC–an entity registered to local businessman Mark Brandmeyer. Among the terms of the potential lease agreement, new ownership and the UG would share the cost of utilities in the first year before ownership assumes those expenses in subsequent seasons. In addition, the deal calls for team ownership to pay property taxes on an adjacent parking lot and cover all ballpark operating costs, though it would not pay monthly rent. The UG, meanwhile, would allocate at least $1 million in STAR Bonds within two years to cover ballpark upgrades.
New ownership would be expected to develop year-round event spaces as part of the agreement. The sale has not yet received American Association approval. More from the Kansas City Star:
Kansas Secretary of State records show Max Fun is registered to Mark Brandmeyer, a partner at Built Interior Construction in Kansas City and a principal at Brandmeyer Enterprises, a health care investment firm. He said he could not comment on the pending sale until it has received approval from the T-Bones’ league, the American Association of Independent Professional Baseball.
Commissioners will consider a five-year lease with three five-year renewal options. As part of the agreement, the government and the company will split the cost of utilities for the first year. Afterwards, Max Fun is responsible for those bills. The new owner would not be obligated to write a monthly rent check, but is responsible for paying property taxes on an adjacent parking lot and covering all operating costs of the stadium.
Max Fun has committed to spend at least $500,000 on capital improvements to the stadium by May of 2022. The company is expected to develop year-round public event spaces that include sand volleyball and pickleball facilities as well as a sports bar or outdoor music stage.
The UG will also commit to spending at least $1 million from Kansas sales tax revenue, or STAR, bonds within two years for stadium improvements.
Financial challenges have been an issue for T-Bones ownership over the years, including difficulties that came after Ehlert Development privately financed a $12-million ballpark that was completed in 2003 and is currently known as JustBats Field at T-Bones Stadium. To alleviate financial issues, the Unified Government of Wyandotte County/Kansas City spent $8 million as part of a 2014 agreement to buy the ballpark and make the T-Bones a tenant, but that was not enough to prevent future difficulties. More recently, a 2017 deal made the T-Bones the manager of the facility while the two parties agreed to share in utility costs, with the Unified Government covering 55% of those expenses and the team paying the remainder. At the time of August’s announcement, the UG stated that the club owed in excess of $687,000 in current and past due utility payments, along with $75,545.10 in rent.
The UG first announced the eviction of the T-Bones in August. An initial eviction date in September was later pushed back to this month, after team ownership came up with a $50,000 payment that went toward covering previous debts but did not relieve it of remaining debt.
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