Hundreds of Kansas City businesses are eager to make sure baseball’s All-Star Game is a big hit this summer.
So city officials need to reasonably limit the control that Major League Baseball will have over local companies trying to tap into that excitement.
A few compromises need to be worked out before the City Council approves new ordinances regulating events in the days just before the July 10 game.
To be sure, baseball bought a lot of good will with Kansas Citians by deciding to hold the 2012 “Midsummer Classic” at Kauffman Stadium. Thousands of visitors will spend millions of dollars while attending official fan gatherings downtown, on the Country Club Plaza and at the stadium. Big companies that are paying a lot of money to help sponsor the game and the related activities will be selling food, drink and all kinds of paraphernalia.
However, baseball officials risk squandering some of that good will if they go too far in trying to shut down commerce by local businesses within a mile of official events, as has been proposed.
One priority for the council is to work with Major League Baseball to make sure regular food vendors aren’t shut out from peddling their wares during First Fridays in the Crossroads on July 6.
Baseball and its corporate sponsors have the right to fight back against fly-by-night companies that want to sell unofficial knockoffs of uniforms, pennants and other products. Food vendor permits shouldn’t be handed out freely in Kansas City to people who might engage in ambush marketing by quickly converting their trucks to sell cheaper paraphernalia.
But as of Monday, city and baseball officials correctly were trying to work out a plan that would allow food vendors who are regulars in the Crossroads area to sell on First Friday in July. If MLB officials haven’t experienced a First Friday, they should do so soon. They will realize it’s one of Kansas City’s highlights, deserving of a spot on visitors’ must-see lists.
Kansas City stands to gain a lot by hosting the All-Star Game. But the City Council must ensure that rules established to guide the marketing and merchandising of the event are sensible and do not unnecessarily trample the rights of local businesses.