The prospective owner of the Kansas City T-Bones (independent; American Association) has lined up use of Just Bats Field at T-Bones Stadium, as Unified Government of Wyandotte County/Kansas City officials approved a lease Thursday.
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 pending purchase by Max Fun Entertainment LLC–a group led by local businessman Mark Brandmeyer–is moving toward completion.
With Thursday’s 9-1 vote, UG commissioners approved a five-year agreement that comes with three five-year renewal options. The American Association has not given its final approval for a sale of the team, but that is expected to fall into place soon. Once it officially assumes control of the T-Bones, the goal of new ownership will be to leverage the facility for non-baseball events while improving the fan experience, a strategy that will include new amenities at the ballpark. More from the Kansas City Star:
With the new agreement in place, the prospective owner now only needs approval from the T-Bones’ league, the American Association of Professional Baseball. The league may vote as early as next week to approve the sale.
But the new owners promise more than just baseball in KCK.
Mark Perry, who said he will become the new team president, laid out plans for shuffleboard, pickleball, sand volleyball and bocce ball at the venue. He said the new owners are even considering a wintertime ice sheet that could host skating and hockey.
Those features will help make the T-Bones stadium a year-round attraction that can draw families, adults and corporate groups. Fans increasingly demand fun experiences at the ballpark, he said.
As part of the agreement, Max Fun Entertainment and the UG will 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 ownership group would commit to investing at least $500,000 into ballpark improvements. The UG, meanwhile, would allocate at least $1 million in STAR Bonds to cover ballpark upgrades.
The UG first announced the eviction of the T-Bones in August, stating that the club owed in excess of $687,000 in current and past due utility payments, along with $75,545.10 in rent. 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. Financial challenges have been an issue for 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.
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