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The Unified Government of Wyandotte County/Kansas City, Kansas will allow the T-Bones to stay another month at their government-owned stadium near Village West.
The UG granted the reprieve after the T-Bones and their American Association of Independent Professional Baseball paid $50,000 toward previous debts. The government body issued an eviction notice last month after the T-Bones racked up more than $760,000 in back rent and utility payments. As of Aug. 16, T-Bones owners had made only three out of 48 monthly payments of $1,678, putting the team in default for 45 months, the UG said in a news release last month.
On Thursday, government officials announced a 30-day extension. It allows the team and the association to continue working on a sale of the ball club and pay the debts owed until 5 p.m. on Oct. 13.
“The Unified Government looks forward to the sale of the team to new owners and repayment of the debt,” County Administrator Doug Bach said in a news release Thursday. “More importantly, we look forward to keeping a baseball team in our stadium because we view the team as a community asset and an important part of our successful Village West tourism district.”
Officials said the $50,000 payment and the eviction extension do not relieve the T-Bones of paying the remainder of the debt owed.
The T-Bones received the August eviction notice only after several government efforts to bail out the team.
In 2003, the Duluth-Superior Dukes moved from Minnesota and became the T-Bones, setting up shop in a new privately-owned stadium named after CommunityAmerica Credit Union.
But after attendance began lagging in 2010, team owners and local government officials said private ownership was not sustainable.
The UG bought the 6,200-seat stadium in 2013 from Ehlert Development Corp., an affiliate of T-Bones owner John Ehlert, for $5.5 million. The UG at the time said it would spend another $2.5 million upgrading the stadium. Both the purchase and upgrades were funded by sales tax revenue (STAR) bonds generated by retail sales in the Village West development.
But the team still struggled financially.
As another bailout effort, the Unified Board of Commissioners in 2017 unanimously approved a measure to replace its 20-year lease agreement with the baseball team with a new deal that had taxpayers pitch in on the ballpark’s property taxes and utilities. In 2018, the government sent a notice of default to the team.
Unlike minor league clubs, the T-Bones play in an independent league and have no affiliation with Major League Baseball teams.
Joshua Schaub, the commissioner of the American Association, has been working with team owners to keep the T-Bones in Kansas City.
“The T-Bones, the American Association of Independent Professional Baseball, and the Unified Government have been committed to playing the 2020 season and beyond,” Schaub said in a news release. “This agreement with the UG is a good reinforcement of that mutual commitment.”