The soon-to-be-vacated home of the Kansas City Star is being mentioned as part of a potential site for a new Royals ballpark and associated development, serving as a bridge to the Power and Light District.
We are not talking about anything imminent here: The Star is leaving its downtown building at 1601 McGee Street beginning in the first quarter of 2021 but will not totally vacate the place until the end of the year. The Star‘s parent, McClatchy, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy earlier this year, and the downsizing is a way to address that reorganization.
The building is not that old–it opened in 2006–but with the Star operations downsizing and the feeling that a high-profile newsroom building is not a business imperative as it once was, the loss of the Star is being seen by some as an opportunity to reshape part of downtown Kansas City. And many discussions of downtown Kansas City development inevitably involve a new Kansas City Royals ballpark.
The location of the Star building is intriguing: it’s located directly south of the Power and Light District and T-Mobile Center, with I-670 in between. Ambassador Hospitality purchased the building from McClatchy for $30 million and is already looking at options for it. From KCUR:
Rosana Privitera Biondo, a principal of Ambassador Hospitality, declined to say whether The Star would pay a penalty for ending the lease early. But she said Ambassador Hospitality was considering several possible uses for the building, including as a logistics center, a call fulfillment center and even a brewery….
Privitera threw out one other intriguing use for the building, or rather for the land on which the building sits, although she refused to elaborate.
“It could be the possible new Royals stadium – tear down the building, buy our property, build across the highway,” she said. “Then we have the location for the Crossroads downtown, the walking paths that everybody in Kansas City says they want, and it would connect the Crossroads and the Power & Light [District] with the Sprint Center.”
The Royals currently play at Kauffman Stadium, which first opened in 1973 and was renovated in recent years. While Kauffman Stadium is a classic ballpark, it’s no secret the team would be open to discussions of a new downtown ballpark, with the belief that Kauffman Stadium’s suburban location is a barrier to attendance. Speculation about what the team could pursue in the future has picked up in recent months, following the introduction of John Sherman as the team’s new owner last year. For his part, Sherman has sounded open to the idea of eventually exploring a downtown ballpark since purchasing the team, but has not settled on long-term plans, nor has he ruled out the prospect of making further renovations to Kauffman Stadium.
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About Kevin Reichard
Kevin Reichard is founder and publisher of Ballpark Digest.