Negro Leagues Baseball Museum announces plans for a $25 million new home in Kansas City
The museum has already secured $1 million for construction of the new building, planned for the intersection of 18th Street and Paseo, from Bank of America. The bulk of funds are expected to come from private financers.
Kansas City’s Negro Leagues Baseball Museum will get a newer, bigger home, museum officials announced on Tuesday.
The new museum will be built adjacent to the historic Paseo YMCA on 18th Street and the Paseo, Negro Leagues Baseball Museum President Bob Kendrick said at a news conference at the museum’s current home in the heart of the Historic 18th and Vine district, where it opened in 1997.
“Just like the Negro Leagues, it is important that we continue to dare to dream,” Kendrick said.
Kendrick announced that Bank of America was kicking off the museum’s capital campaign with a $1 million grant toward the 30,000-square-foot project estimated to cost $25 million. Most of the funds will be privately raised, Kendrick said, but there may be public funding involved down the road.
The principal architectural firm is Pendulum, based in the Crossroads Arts District of Kansas City. Jonathan Cole, the founding principal of Pendulum, said he was still pinching himself over the opportunity his firm has had with the design.
“We’ve designed minor league ballparks, major league ballparks,” Cole said. “To be part of this, which is, I think, our real history — especially as an African American who happens to be an architect, who happens to do work in baseball — this is a second-to-none opportunity for us.”
Kendrick said the timetable for the new museum would depend on how fast the funds are raised.
“Typically you want to raise half or three-quarters of your money before you break ground because you feel like you’re less likely to fail in raising the required funds to do this,” he said.
Royals owner John Sherman, who attended the news conference, said he was enthusiastic about the prospects of a new museum, especially given the Royals’ plans to build a new stadium somewhere downtown
“I think we want to pull this history into our stadium wherever it is,” Sherman said.
In February, in recognition of Black History Month, the Royals provided free admission to the museum. More than 14,000 patrons went through the turnstiles that month alone, compared to a previous monthly average of 7,000 visitors. Kendrick said that indicated accommodations for larger crowds would be necessary.
Plus, Kendrick said, additional space for exhibits will be helpful.
“If we were to secure a substantial collection, we would have no place to display it (in the current building),” Kendrick said.
Former Royals outfielder David DeJesus and other Major League Baseball alumni are scheduled to hold a “Play it Forward” baseball clinic Saturday at the YMCA of Greater Kansas City to raise awareness about the fundraising efforts. It’ll be one of a series of highly visible fundraising events in the coming months.