Business

No Royals World Series this year, but impact on KC’s economy is hard to measure

Confetti shot over the crowd as Royals fans celebrated the team's World Series victory early Monday, Nov. 2, 2015, in the Power & Light District. There will be no scene like that in Kansas City this year after the Royals missed the playoffs.
Confetti shot over the crowd as Royals fans celebrated the team's World Series victory early Monday, Nov. 2, 2015, in the Power & Light District. There will be no scene like that in Kansas City this year after the Royals missed the playoffs. kmyers@kcstar.com

Championship success for Kansas City’s professional sports can be ephemeral. So, too, is the task of determining the impact these postseason runs have on the local economy.

When the Kansas City Royals’ dreams of reaching a third straight postseason run died in September — arguably earlier than that — it meant no national broadcasts in October showing blue-clad fans packing the Power & Light District.

Those shots moved to Cleveland this week, where the Indians hosted two games against the Chicago Cubs. Then it’s on to the Chicago, starting Friday.

Nick Benjamin, executive director of the Power & Light District, acknowledges there is “less excitement in the city this month because the Royals season stopped short.”

But is it affecting the business?

He indicated the district is on track to realize a 15 percent increase in sales by the end of the year.

“One of the nice things about being a neighborhood is that we have a lot of different types of uses that benefit from different catalysts, and the biggest overall catalyst for the district right now is the overall growth of the downtown residential base and generally increased day-to-day traffic,” Benjamin said.

Parsing out the impact of the Royals going to the World Series eludes easy conclusions.

Yes, Kansas City rode a sharp bump up in sales tax and other tax increases from October of the last two years.

For example, Kansas City collected $150.5 million in sales taxes attributable to October 2014 when the Royals lost the World Series that year. That was up more than 13 percent from the year before. And 2015 sustained that bump with $153.7 million in sales tax receipts in October when the Royals took the crown.

Convention and tourism taxes followed a similar path.

But there are several caveats in that sales tax data. One is the fact Kansas City increased its sales tax rate in 2014. Another is an improving economy.

“So though you do see spikes in collections, pinpointing the amount that was actually attributable to the World Series is impossible to determine,” wrote Kansas City revenue commissioner Mari Ruck in an email to The Star.

Until Kansas City counts what it made this October, and whether it continues in the $150 million range or drops back near the pre-World Series levels, it will remain difficult to ballpark the extent the Royals were responsible for the uptick in sales tax receipts.\

In restaurants and other hospitality businesses, the impact is even harder to measure.

Bill Teel, executive director of the Greater Kansas City Restaurant Association, said he hasn’t heard from members about whether business has been up or down so far this October.

“It just seems like it’s business as usual,” he said.

Chris Sutton, CEO of the KC Hopps restaurant group, said he thinks it’s just as easy for people to host viewing parties at home.

“My feeling is it’s become so darn easy to get a party together at your home with your friends,” he said.

Information from Visit KC — the metro area’s conventions and visitors agency — about October 2016 hotel occupancy and economic impact data, to compare to previous Octobers, won’t be available until early November, according to Visit KC spokeswoman Toni Alexander.

Mets fans can drone on all they want about the Big Apple, but they won’t have any cooler video than one shot using a drone by creative producer Griffin Davis and motion designer Michael Martin of the advertising and public relations firm Barkley.

The Star’s Diane Stafford and Lynn Horsley contributed to this story.

Steve Vockrodt: 816-234-4277, @st_vockrodt

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