KANSAS CITY, Mo. — There’s a new baseball boss in Royals country.
John Sherman, new controlling owner of the Kansas City Royals, met the public on Tuesday, one day after Major League Baseball owners unanimously approved his acquisition of the ballclub.
Sherman, 70, laughed that he “came out of hiding” on Tuesday.
The deal, worth a reported $1 billion, has been in the works for about a year, and make Sherman the third majority owner of this 50-year old baseball franchise.
The Royals believe his two strengths are his dedications to baseball, and to building a champion in Kansas City, rather than to relocate the team.
“We’re transforming. We’re using our core competencies,” Sherman said, emphasizing that this isn’t a rebuilding moment.
For a four-year period, Sherman held a minority ownership in the Cleveland Indians, during which time, that ballclub averaged 94 victories per season.
Royals leadership figures emphasized that he was handpicked by outgoing owner David Glass to buy the franchise. Sherman said talks began with a phone call from Glass in February during Spring Training, but Sherman had reached out to Glass in the past to gauge his interest in selling the team.
“Our objectives will be to compete for a championship on behalf of our fans. I’ve heard Mike say it, and I’ve heard Dayton say it, that we’re going to try to do it on a sustainable basis,” Sherman said.
Sherman’s baseball bedrock comes from another state, but he’s built his business reputation in the Kansas City region. Sherman, who grew up in a military household that relocated often, has spent four decades in KC.
His ownership team boasts a whos-who from the metro, including investors from J.E. Dunn Construction, affluent local families named Lockton, Haverty, and Kemper, as well as actor-comedian Eric Stonestreet.
“As much fun as I was having in Cleveland, this is kind of a generational opportunity and very compelling to do it in your hometown. That didn’t happen in a day, by any means,” Sherman said.
Once Sherman was introduced on Tuesday, it didn’t take long for the topic of a potential downtown stadium to arise.
Local economists estimate it would take nearly a billion dollars to build a downtown ballpark, one that would, in turn, move the Royals away from the Truman Sports Complex. The team’s lease at Kauffman Stadium runs through 2031.
“There’s a lot of thought that baseball, there’s more economic opportunity if it’s in denser areas, where you can have ancillary real estate. We’ll evaluate those thoughts and strategies over the next few years,” Sherman said.
Neither Sherman nor other Royals executives divulged how much money ownership would be willing to invest in a new downtown ballpark. Several locations have already been highlighted as possible stadium locations.
Some might think of Sherman’s rise to team ownership as being a match made in baseball heaven.
Sherman was born on April 12, 1949, which is coincidentally the same date as the first professional baseball game played in Kansas City.
Newly-hired Royals manager Mike Metheny, who was named to his position in October, was among those praising Sherman as being “a baseball man” rather than merely being a tycoon interested in a passive investment.
“It’s the green light. Let’s go. I know Mr. Sherman has been anxious to have this. I’m grateful too that he allowed us to get moving before this even happened. He and Mr. Glass were in unison,” Metheny said.
“He`s someone who loves the game and understands its importance to this team and this city, what it means to the fans and this passionate fan base that we all love,” longtime Royals General Manager Dayton Moore added.
David Glass’ full statement:
“The decision to sell the Royals was difficult for our family. Our goal, which I firmly believe we’ve achieved, was to have someone local, who truly loved the game of baseball and who would be a great steward for this franchise going forward. In John Sherman we have found everything we were looking for in taking ownership of this franchise,” said David Glass, the team’s Owner and Chief Executive Officer since he acquired the team in April, 2000. “John Sherman and his group far exceeded our hope for the next caretaker of Royals baseball. His love for Kansas City and the game of baseball is well documented as are his philanthropic endeavors in the surrounding communities. A native of this area, John has made a huge impact in our business community and is so passionate about baseball that he purchased an ownership stake in the Cleveland Indians three years ago to begin his relationship with this great game. We are truly blessed to have someone of John’s stature and business acumen available to us from the metropolitan area to take the reins of this organization going forward.”
“As for my family, it has been an amazing run since we gained control of the franchise in 2000,” Mr. Glass continued. “I will miss this more than anyone realizes because I grew up loving this great game and was awarded a fantastic opportunity to own one of the 30 Major League clubs. We watched this club painfully come up 90-feet short in 2014 and then ultimately win that coveted World Series trophy in 2015. I will never forget the thrill of seeing over 800,000 people of this community come together on one sunny November day to salute the newly-crowned World Champions. It’s been a fantastic ride and I want to thank our great fans for supporting us through the years but now it’s time for someone else to oversee this franchise into its next championship and in John Sherman, we’ve found the perfect individual.”