Sports
7:53 am
Tue July 16, 2013

What Was Kansas City Left With After Hosting The MLB All-Star Game?

Fans look on to the field at a MLB All-Star event in Kansas City, Mo in 2012.
Fans look on to the field at a MLB All-Star event in Kansas City, Mo in 2012.
Credit Greg Echlin / KCUR

When the Major League Baseball All-Star game is played Tuesday night at Citi Field in New York, it will stir up memories from last year in Kansas City, Mo.

The game returned to Kauffman Stadium in 2012 after a 39-year absence. But, besides the memories, what is Kansas City left with after hosting the mid-summer classic?

Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig said in 2010 a footprint would be left in Kansas City long after the All-Star game’s last out.

"We will leave, besides all the great memories, we will leave a lot of money for local charities that will make a great impact and will let the Royals really do things in a lot of different ways," Selig said.

Regardless of the boos showered upon Robinson Cano of the New York Yankees after excluding Billy Butler of the Kansas City Royals from the Home Run Derby, Major League Baseball still counted the money. The proceeds from the Home Run Derby went to charity.

From the Kansas City Royals community relations department, Toby Cook with Major League Baseball’s stamp of approval was in charge of allocating the Royals portion of the money.

"We knew the things that they would be excited about and field renovation is kind of at the top of the list," says Cook. "They also have a partnership with the Boys and Girls Club nationally and there’s no question that the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum had to be a part of the picture."

The Negro Leagues Baseball Museum received funds for a traveling exhibit that enabled the museum to market itself. Last month, for example, it was in Omaha in conjunction with the College World Series.

Clearly visible, even a year later, is the improved condition of the baseball field at Satchell Paige Stadium in Kansas City.

"What Major League Baseball did, they came in and renovated the entire field. They graded the field, stripped the field, graded it and put in a brand new drainage system, new sod. It’s a great field," says Ronald Stevenson, director of Kansas City’s RBI program, which stands for Reviving Baseball in the Inner City, an extension of the Boys and Girls Club.

Three other fields in the city were also upgraded. Though Stevenson wishes more could have been done at Satchell Paige, he’s thankful for its current condition on the banks of Brush Creek. Especially since the stadium was submerged by the devastating Brush Creek flood of 1998.

The question is whether the fields can be as well-manicured year after year. Cook admits that’s the most difficult task. But he doesn’t believe the fields will be ignored.

"We’re not going to have another All-Star game for quite awhile, but from the Royals charities foundation standpoint we’d like to help them continue to maintain them as well," says Cook. "We certainly don’t want to do this once for 2012 and then it doesn’t look that way anymore."

Meanwhile, groundbreaking is scheduled for next week for two adaptive baseball fields for kids with physical or mental disabilities, one in Olathe, Kan. and the other in Independence, Mo.

Plans were announced last spring at Kauffman Stadium, which pleased Natalie Blakemore, whose son Zack has a disability.

"These venues offer places to go and enjoy their abilities. Learn new skills. Find joy and happiness," says Blakemore. "There are very few venues where kids with disabilities truly feel welcome."

Last year, $5 million was generated from the Home Run Derby. Of that total, $2 million will be invested locally.

The All-Star game not only left a foot print in Kansas City. It resulted in greener grass and fresh paint in some places around town that needed it.