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Some 18th & Vine leaders say shedding downtown stadium might have ‘a tremendously damaging impression’


Staff member
Mar 22, 2024
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Editor’s word: The next story was revealed by KCUR, Kansas Metropolis’s NPR member station, and a fellow member of the KC Media Collective. Click on here to learn the unique story or here to enroll in KCUR’s e-mail publication.

Companies had been break up on their response to the vote on April 2 that rejected the extension of a 3/Eighth-cent gross sales tax for a ballpark within the Crossroads; Some mentioned the lack of a downtown stadium simply blocks away would hinder progress within the district. Others mentioned the marketing campaign was doomed from the beginning

It was on the Paseo YMCA, a stone’s throw from Kansas Metropolis’s Negro Leagues Baseball Museum ,tucked between Vine Road and Highland Avenue on 18th Road, that Andrew “Rube” Foster based the Negro Nationwide League in 1920.

Recognized for his or her aggressive and quick model of play, Black baseball gamers weren’t allowed to compete in Main League Baseball till Jackie Robinson, as soon as a Kansas Metropolis Monarch, broke the color barrier in 1947. The Monarchs was one of many Leagues’ most well-known groups till it disbanded within the early Fifties.

Bob Kendrick, president of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum within the coronary heart of the historic 18th & Vine district, mentioned to reject the tax for a brand new downtown ballpark is to disregard this illustrious legacy.

“In a metropolis that has identified nice championship sports activities franchises, none extra necessary than the nice Kansas Metropolis Monarchs,” he mentioned. “So we’ve received an amazing legacy that we grasp our hat on.”

Kendrick believes that legacy, in addition to the 18th & Vine district, could also be left in limbo now that the mud has settled after Jackson County voters rejected the extension of a 3/Eighth-cent stadium gross sales tax. The present tax expires in 2031.
The proposed stadium was to be constructed within the Crossroads Arts District. As a part of the plan, the Kansas Metropolis Star Press Pavilion property and a few companies within the Crossroads could be demolished.

Kendrick mentioned the failed election was a missed alternative for the Black group and the third District, a neighborhood he’s devoted his life’s work to preserving.


Kemet Coleman, co-founder of Vine Road Brewing; Bob Kendrick, president of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum; and Adam Corridor, Boulevard and Duvel/Moortgot; photograph courtesy of Vine Road Brewing

“If we are able to’t get a decision on this, I feel it’s gonna have a tremendously damaging impression on historic 18th & Vine from the standpoint that the ballpark would’ve introduced a degree of commerce to this district that’s sorely wanted,” Kendrick mentioned. “And never simply the district, however the East Facet general, an space that has been typically ignored, undervalued and underserved.”

Henry Service, 57, is a felony protection and household legislation legal professional who owns the historic Lincoln Building on the intersection of 18th and Vine Streets. The constructing went up only a yr after the Negro Leagues was established and, in its heyday, leased area to Black professionals and leisure venues.

“I feel it’s gonna be unhealthy for town,” Service mentioned of the “no” vote.

“I feel the jazz district particularly has misplaced a chance primarily based on its proximity to the event as a result of we’re already on survival mode right here and we’re not going to have a possible lifeline for the district.”

Kendrick argues the Negro Leagues Museum, mixed with tourism {dollars} attracted by a brand new ballpark, would help such revitalization.

“This downtown ballpark is de facto necessary, and I might love nothing greater than to see a brand new Negro Leagues Baseball Museum open proper across the time {that a} new downtown ballpark would open,” Kendrick mentioned, “(and) what that may imply by way of creating this pipeline right here from the historic 18th & Vine (neighborhood) to downtown.”

However not all group enterprise homeowners really feel the identical means.

Andrea Shelby, 56, owns The Kansas City Blues and Jazz Juke House. It’s a preferred bar, grill and dance spot within the district simply steps to the east of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum. The enterprise additionally serves as a hub for Kansas Metropolis’s two-step dance group and Black creatives who typically carry out dwell on Monday nights at “Open Mic Soul Classes.”


Andrea Shelby, the proprietor of the Kansas Metropolis Blues and Jazz Juke Home, got here to work early to organize the bar earlier than opening for his or her well-liked Wednesday 2-step nights. The Juke Home is the preferred Bar and Grill on the Vine district and it positioned simply east from the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum; photograph by Lawrence Brooks IV, KCUR

Shelby mentioned she believes voters rejected the Royals and Chiefs proposal by such a big margin due to a scarcity of transparency round details of the Community Benefits Agreement and what she referred to as “smug public messaging.”

“I really feel like 58% voted no as a result of it wasn’t a transparent, exact proposal,” Shelby mentioned. “I really feel prefer it was rushed and I really feel like as soon as they added the Kansas Metropolis Chiefs on the poll, then it type of modified quite a lot of issues for Jackson Countians.”

RELATED: Crossroads small biz homeowners to Royals: Come again with a greater plan (and put it in writing)

Shelby additionally believes a sales tax is regressive, particularly for Kansas Citians who dwell on the East Facet, and who might spend extra of their month-to-month earnings on requirements and providers for day by day survival than those that dwell west of Troost.

As well as, Shelby mentioned many years of damaged guarantees to make enhancements within the jazz district and surrounding city neighborhoods additionally contributed to the “no” vote.

“There’s quite a lot of issues that we are able to enhance on the East Facet: higher sidewalks, higher neighborhoods, much less violence, (a) higher faculty system, issues like that,” she mentioned. “I feel if these issues had been put in place, we wouldn’t have an issue with voting sure.”

Shelby advised supporters had been fearmongering with threats the groups would depart city, or harm companies like hers if the gross sales tax extension didn’t go.

“I don’t assume it has any damaging implications for the Vine District,” Shelby mentioned.

To the east of Shelby’s enterprise is the Director’s Cut Barbershop.

Ricardo Beccera, aka “Cardo Cuts,” is an expert barber and mentioned the deal appeared rushed from the beginning. He mentioned the general public messaging was off-putting to on a regular basis working folks.

“Like (Jackson County Government) Frank White mentioned, they received time to convey it again to the desk and rework issues,” he mentioned. “I simply assume that it was actually a smack within the face to the small companies and all of the little folks out right here that work arduous on a regular basis for the billionaires to return in and say, ‘get out the best way,’ basically.”


Ricardo Becerra standing at his sales space on the Administrators Reduce Barbershop on the east finish of 18th and Vinem; photograph by Lawrence Brooks IV, KCUR

Beccera, 37, didn’t maintain again on why he felt Jackson County residents selected to say no to rich staff homeowners or what the long run appears like for companies within the jazz district.

“You might have a enterprise that generates some huge cash, billions of {dollars}. Pay for it your self,” he insisted. “You’re a billionaire (so) transfer your corporation downtown. I feel that from a small enterprise perspective right here on 18th & Vine, we’ve our personal points so far as renovating the world and bringing enterprise. We are able to’t depend on them to convey our enterprise. We received to convey it ourselves.”

The barber additionally doubted rumors that the Royals and Chiefs might probably transfer away from Kansas Metropolis consequently.

“I don’t assume they’re gonna go away. We’ve got them until 2031 and the primary time that they signed that 3/Eighth-cent gross sales tax, they had been supposed to place a dome on prime of the stadium they usually by no means did it. And that was, that was years in the past,” Beccera mentioned. “You bought to observe by with what you promised the primary time, which is renovating that stadium nevertheless you want to. After which we are able to work issues out.”

Jason Parson, 50, is the proprietor of Parson and Associates, a communications agency positioned within the jazz district. Because the grandson of Kansas City jazz great Jay McShann, and co-owner of the constructing that homes Kansas City’s first Black brewery, Vine Street Brewing, he says he’ll at all times be dedicated to this district.

Parson not too long ago organized a group discussion board at Vine Road Brewing the place Royals proprietor John Sherman made his case to the Black group to vote “sure” on the gross sales tax extension. A pair dozen residents attended, and most within the viewers appeared to help the poll measure. Nevertheless, there have been some expressions of opposition throughout his presentation and Q&A.

Parson mentioned he’s dissatisfied with the end result and, if current historical past is any indication, he worries that Kansas Metropolis might lose its sports activities groups.

“People who assume it’s not doable, disgrace on them,” he mentioned. “So far as the Royals are involved, you see what’s occurring with Oakland and Las Vegas. They went from a metropolis that had no skilled franchises, to 1 that’s checking lots of the packing containers, whether or not it’s a soccer staff, (the) WNBA or hockey.”

“I might argue that if we had been to ever lose the Royals and the Chiefs, we definitely wouldn’t get one other skilled baseball or soccer staff again in my lifetime,” Parson mentioned.

Despite this week’s defeat, the Negro League Baseball Museum’s Bob Kendrick mentioned he understands that the voters of Jackson County have spoken. Nevertheless, he expects the dialog to proceed a couple of downtown ballpark within the shadow of the shrine the Black baseball.

“It was the need of the folks to not go this measure. All of us respect that as a part of the democratic course of,” Kendrick mentioned. “So I’m very hopeful that we are able to get one other measure up for consideration.”
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