The "Dayton Moore as general manager" era of Kansas City Royals baseball has come to an end as he has now been "promoted" to a new cushy front office gig. I won’t go into the specifics of what his new role will be with the club, but you can learn more here.
Before we move on, a quick tip of the cap to JJ Picollo is necessary. After assisting in the development of the Royals' farm system into what it is today — one of the best in baseball — he now becomes the team's general manager. Kudos to him.
However, at Tuesday's press conference, team owner John Sherman brought up a downtown stadium. The Royals' lease at Truman Sports Complex is set to expire in 2031. To be frank, most of the downtown Kansas City baseball stadium concepts that are leaked around the internet are straight garbage. They remove all of the character and uniqueness that Kauffman Stadium currently possesses.
Also, these annual stadium proposals are usually floated around when the local news channel needs something to talk about. They are discussed for a day or two before being stashed away for next year’s slow news day. Honestly, it’s a joke that Sherman proposes the idea of a new downtown stadium when all he has contributed to the team so far is being involved in the signings of a bunch of rentals in the offseason and somehow approving the re-signing of Hunter Dozier.
While Sherman is undoubtedly rich, his wealth is actually rather modest compared to most MLB owners' net worth. For example, as of June 2020, Sherman's rumored net worth was about $1.25 billion. That pales in comparison to that of St. Louis Cardinals owner William DeWitt Jr’s $4B figure.
Sherman is a man who has built two very profitable energy companies in his time, which is where a great deal of his wealth has come from. Tragically it appears that the Royals are just another means to an end for him, as he has yet to show all that much ambition as the owner of the team. This is where the stadium comes into play, as it is without a doubt Sherman's ace in the hole when it comes to turning a profit.
When the Texas Rangers approved their new stadium in 2016, the valuation of their franchise was $1.2B. The very next year, the team's value shot up to 1.5B. Now, it’s up to $1.7B. Atlanta approved their stadium in 2013 with the club valued at $629M. Two years later, the team was valued at $1.15B and now it’s worth $1.8B. Even the Marlins have tripled their value since their stadium was approved in 2009.
This might sound great until you realize that all three of these teams have either nuked their payroll or stayed at the same level since their new parks were opened or, in the Rangers' case, when the stadium was approved. (This is their first year playing in the stadium.)
Texas Rangers' 2016 Payroll: $161,246,720 (8th highest in baseball). 2021: $95,738,159 (20th).
Atlanta Braves' 2017 Payroll: $137,339,527 (15th). 2021: $147,494,787 (12th).
Miami Marlins' 2012 Payroll: $118,078,000 (7th). 2021: $57,933,684 (27th).
Before I go on, I would like to point out that the Braves' ownership group, Liberty Media Corporation, is the third-richest in baseball and has routinely kept the club in the middle of the pack in terms of spending. Also, a $10M bump in payroll is relatively small when you realize that Braves OF Marcell Ozuna currently makes $12M and was added to the team in 2020.
As we can see, a new stadium won’t necessarily make an owner spend more to make the team competitive. This isn’t surprising, because they got their money as soon as the stadium was approved. In the case of all three teams, their records suffered as well — all three went from having a winning record to a losing record after their new stadiums were approved. The Marlins and Rangers are still finding themselves at the foot of the league.
As for the Braves, their luck turned around in 2018 when Ronald Acuna Jr, Ozzie Albies and a whole heap of other Braves prospects became big-league regulars. I’m sorry, but that has absolutely nothing to do with building a new stadium. In the end, it all boils down to one simple question.
Since winning the World Series in 2015, have the Royals and John Sherman done enough to improve the club and potentially demand that you pay for a new stadium? How you answer this question will determine how you’ll vote for this proposal when the time comes to vote — and no matter what I say will change that.
At the end of the day, the Royals' new stadium proposal is going to be driven by a combination of greed, desperation and a healthy dose of celebrity bandwagoning. Just remember that good organizations win baseball games, bad ones lose them and a new baseball stadium won't change any of that.