by Mary Rupert and William Crum
The Unified Government served an eviction notice on the T-Bones baseball team on Friday, Aug. 16. The T-Bones are behind more than three-quarters of a million dollars on the utility payments and the lease.
The notice stated that the T-Bones would be evicted on Sept. 13 from T-Bones Stadium in Kansas City, Kansas, if the UG does not receive fees and utility payments owed by the T-Bones, according to the UG. The notice says the T-Bones must be out by 5 p.m. Sept. 13.
The T-Bones, according to the UG, are delinquent on $358,439.53 in current utility payments, $328,749.77 in past due BPU costs and $75,545.10 from the lease agreement for the stadium. The UG stated the T-Bones were in default for 45 monthly payments, having made only three monthly payments of $1,678.
Currently on a 12-game winning streak, the T-Bones’ regular season ends Sept. 2, and if the T-Bones make the playoffs, Sept. 13 should be enough days to get in playoff games, a UG spokesman said. The T-Bones won the American Association championship last year.
According to Mike Taylor, spokesman for the UG, the eviction was served on the T-Bones for nonpayment of bills to lease the stadium from the UG, and they also are behind on their utility payments to the Board of Public Utilities.
The T-Bones will have until Sept. 13 to come up with the money that is owed, but the UG does not expect them to be able to do that, Taylor said.
The UG bailed out the T-Bones previously, in 2017, when they restructured their agreement from a lease to a management form. The agreement in 2017 called for the UG to pay 55 percent of the T-Bones’ utility bills, but the UG was not responsible for the property taxes. The T-Bones were supposed to pay a fee to the UG for using the stadium. At that time, the T-Bones were viewed as an essential part of tourism at Village West.
The BPU in 2017 decided not to waive $172,700 of the T-Bones’ overdue utility bill, and the BPU voted in 2017 not to give the T-Bones a reduced rate for electricity and water. Some BPU members expressed the opinion at that time that the T-Bones need to stand on their own, like other businesses.
Taylor said at the time, the UG was looking for a way to keep them in the stadium by all means possible, and changing the agreement to make the T-Bones managers of the stadium would help with taxes.
Taylor said the UG warned the T-Bones a year ago that they were in default. In a statement today, the UG said that the T-Bones will still owe the debt to the UG even if they are evicted, and they intend to collect on it.
The T-Bones put the club up for sale, Taylor said, but so far, no buyer has been announced.
Taylor said the UG has several options available – it could market the stadium to a new owner of a new team; and promote the stadium for more uses such as concerts and more community events. No decisions have been made yet on the options, Taylor said.
Mayor David Alvey said last week that he didn’t think it was fair to everyone else if one business didn’t have to pay its utility bill.
T-Bones’ President Adam Ehlert sent out this response:
“We are shocked by what appears to be this capricious action.
“We have been in close communication with the UG, keeping them apprised of our status as we work toward a sale of the club. Today’s timing is the real surprise, as we’ve shared publicly—and with the UG—that a sale will not be completed or announced during the season.
“Baseball continues this week, as we’re in the midst of a franchise-record winning streak (12 games!), and hopefully into the playoffs as we defend our league championship. We remain optimistic that a solution will be reached in the short-term, to retain baseball in a great market, for the long-term.
“The millions of fans who have enjoyed our product over nearly two decades should share our optimism for the future as we work to close the sale to the next operator of this franchise.”