The local media, and most especially the local fish wrap, have gone out of their way to demonize Kansas City Mayor Mark Funkhouser since he took office in 2007.
None of that made the sports shows and section until this week.
Now, the boys in the toy department are unsheathing their swords and taking pokes at Mayor Funk.
On Thursday, Funkhouser submitted his plan for cleaning up the financial problems facing Kansas City. There’s an $85 million shortfall in the next city budget. One of the mayor’s proposals is for the city to stop kicking in $2 million a year for the Truman Sports Complex.
The lease for the Royals and the Chiefs says there will be $7 million paid each year to help with the upkeep of the stadiums. It has been $2 million from the city, $3 million from Jackson County and $2 million from the state of Missouri.
It’s hard to get a straight answer out of all the parties involved, but apparently the contribution from the city is a handshake agreement with the county, one started by Mayor Kay Barnes back in 2006 when Jackson County voters passed a sales tax increase to pay for renovations at both buildings. That’s also when both teams signed long-term leases to stay in the stadiums.
In essence, there’s nothing in writing that the city must contribute this money. With $85 million to cut from the budget, there are some tough decisions that must be made. Rather than cut basic city services like police and fire, Funkhouser (left) wants to among other things stop subsidizing the buildings used by the Royals and Chiefs.
“Kansas City residents have for years paid a disproportionate share of the Jackson County sports complex,” Funkhouser said in his memo to the Kansas City Council on his plans for the budget. “If a choice has to be made about where to spend general-fund tax dollars, then it’s clear that we should spend it on police.”
Jackson County officials say eliminating the city’s contribution would jeopardize the current leases with the Royals and Chiefs. If the city won’t pay up, the county would have to make up the difference or the 25-year leases signed in 2006 would be void and the teams would be free to leave town.
“It’s mind-boggling to me, frankly, that he’d propose this,” said Jackson County Executive Mike Sanders, who called Funkhouser’s proposal “a nightmare scenario.”
Mike Smith, the Chairman of the Jackson County Sports Authority said Friday in a news release:
“These stadiums are an economic engine not only for Jackson County, but for Kansas City as well … the county pays the lion’s share of the bonds. The city pays a very small part and receives the lion’s share of the benefit by having its name on the teams. Note that the teams are not called the Jackson County Royals or the Jackson County Chiefs.”
So does this mean the Royals and Chiefs are goners? Not hardly. First, Funkhouser’s proposal has not been approved by the city council, so sounding the horns of panic is a bit premature. Second, both teams are putting together renovated stadiums that will increase their revenue opportunities. Both owners have put their own money into the improvements, especially the Hunt family. They are not going to just walk away from that money. Third, neither team has ever seriously considered a move from Kansas City since they were established and they are owned by families that have not had to mortgage their fortunes to buy the teams. Fourth, there are not many municipalities and government bodies in the country that aren’t facing the same type of problems that Funkhouser is trying to solve.
Even for a sports fan, it’s not hard to understand where Mayor Funk is coming from. Yes, Kansas City realizes many things from having the Royals and Chiefs, including constantly publicity. But none of that is worth anything if the city has to cut back on police services, which leads to an increase in crime and makes the city a place where no one wants to live, let alone visit.
One thing Funkhouser said this week makes sense: why does the $2 million fall only on Kansas City? Why is there no money kicked in from Independence, Blue Springs and Lee’s Summit? I won’t even bring up the whole state line problem that bedevils so many things in Kansas City.
Sometimes the world of fun and games has to take a back seat to the real, live and painful problems that a city and a Mayor must face in troubled economic times.
KEEPING UP WITH THE CHANGE OF ADDRESS CARDS IN THE NFL
BEARS - re-signed RB Kevin Jones.
BENGALS – signed QB J.T. O’Sullivan (San Francisco). Released S Dexter Jackson.
BROWNS – signed DE C.J. Mosley (N.Y. Jets). Re-signed DB Mike Adams.
COWBOYS – signed DE Igor Olshansky (San Diego).
EAGLES - signed S Sean Jones (Cleveland).
LIONS – signed OT Daniel Loper (Tennessee).
PACKERS – signed S Anthony Smith (Pittsburgh).
RAIDERS – signed OT Khalif Barnes (Jacksonville).
TITANS - re-signed P Craig Hentrich.
VIKINGS – re-signed LB Heath Farwell.
PRO BOWL HEADED BACK TO HAWAII
“San Francisco has the 49ers, Denver has the Broncos … Hawaii has the Pro Bowl.”
Those were the words of Hawaii’s Lt. Gov. James “Duke” Aiona said during a brief presentation in front of the Hawaii Tourism Authority on Friday.
The authority’s board voted 9-1 on Friday to accept the NFL’s offer to return the Pro Bowl to Honolulu after the 2010 game is played in Miami.
The board rejected two previous proposals, but under mounting pressure from politicians and the hospitality industry, it reconsidered its latest refusal to pay the NFL $4 million a year to host the game at Aloha Stadium in 2011 and 2012.
“We are pleased to continue our partnership with the state of Hawaii, which has embraced the Pro Bowl for 30 years,” said Frank Supovitz, the NFL’s senior vice president of events.
Last month’s Pro Bowl at Aloha Stadium generated $28.6 million in spending and $2.9 million in taxes.
SAY HAPPY BIRTHDAY …
Born on March 7, 1942 in Hermosa Beach, California was quarterback Pete Beathard, the Chiefs No. 1 draft choice in the 1964 AFL Draft out of Southern Cal. Beathard had a 10-year career in pro football, and he spent four of those seasons with the Chiefs (1964-1966, 1973.) He appeared in 51 games and made two starts for the Chiefs. He threw 13 touchdown passes with 13 INTs. Beathard also played for Houston, St. Louis and the Los Angeles Rams.
Born on March 7, 1969 in Kennewick, Washington was linebacker Anthony Davis, who played five seasons with the Chiefs (1994-1998), playing in 68 games, with 49 starts. He had five interceptions with the KC defense. He also played with Seattle, Green Bay and Baltimore.
Tackle Jeff Criswell was born on March 7, 1964 in Grinnell, Iowa. He played 12 seasons in the NFL, with four seasons wearing a Chiefs uniform (1995-98). Criswell played 60 games and started 39 for the Chiefs.
Born on March 7, 1969 in Darby, Pennsylvania was quarterback Matt Blundin, the Chiefs second-round choice in the 1992 NFL Draft. Blundin appeared in two games in four seasons (1992-95) with the Chiefs, throwing eight passes, completing two, for 15 yards and one interception.
On March 7, 1965 cornerback Sidney Johnson was born in Los Angeles. He played 13 games for the Chiefs in the 1988 season.
Born on March 8, 1965 in Pasadena, California was linebacker Stacey Harvey, who played in nine games with the Chiefs in the 1989 season.
And, born on the same day in Holyoke, Massachusetts was running back Kenny Gamble. A 10th-round choice in the 1988 NFL Draft, Gamble played in 19 games over three different seasons (1988-90) with the Chiefs. He carried the ball six times for 24 yards and a touchdown.