KANSAS CITY, Kan. — The Kansas City T-Bones of the American Association independent professional baseball league have been evicted from their stadium for failure to pay rent and utilities totaling more than three-quarters of a million dollars, a move that caught the team and league by surprise.
The Unified Government of Wyandotte County/Kansas City will evict the T-Bones from a county-owned stadium because the team owes more than $687,000 in current and past utility payments, according to a notice sent to the team. It also owes more than $75,000 in rent. The T-Bones had made only three out of 48 monthly payments of $1,678.
The Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks are members of the American Association.
"Yesterday's story about the T-Bones and their agreement with Unified Government was a surprise to us and the timing of the story is unfortunate as teams, including Kansas City, are making a run at the postseason," RedHawks spokesman Chad Ekren said in a statement to The Forum. "However, we hope both sides can work together to find a solution that keeps the T-Bones in Kansas City."
The team must vacate the stadium by Sept. 13. Kansas City's regular season ends Sept. 2. The T-Bones are currently in third place in the league's South Division with a record of 47-39, five games back of division-leading Cleburne and a half-game back of second place Sioux City. The T-Bones recently had a 12-game winning streak. The top two teams in each division make the playoffs.
“We have been very patient and worked with the T-Bones for several years,” UG spokesman Mike Taylor told the Kansas City Star. “They’ve missed 45 out of 48 payments and we finally came to the decision that we needed to evict them from the stadium even though they’ve been a great partner and great community attraction for all these years.”
American Association commissioner Josh Schaub said the Unified Government had not communicated with the league about Kansas City's problems.
"The eviction notice totally caught us by surprise. We had no idea this was coming," Schaub said in an interview with The Forum. "Usually in cases like this, they will communicate with the league office and say, 'We're going to do this.' That didn't happen."
The team has been for sale since 2018. In a statement sent to league teams, Kansas City president Adam Ehlert said the club is optimistic a short-term solution can be reached to retain the club as it works toward a sale.
"We are shocked by what appears to be this capricious action," Ehlert said. "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."
The T-Bones moved from Duluth-Superior in 2003 and had initial success. But the Star reported the Unified Government bought the team's 6,200-seat stadium in 2013 using sales tax revenue. In 2016, the UG paid $125,000 in property taxes to cover a shortfall the team couldn't pay.
Schaub said the AA is committed to keeping the T-Bones in Kansas City. The club won the league title last season.
"The American Association is intending on being in Kansas City. We plan on being in Kansas City in 2020 and that's where we are at this point," Schaub said.