KANSAS CITY, Mo. (WDAF) – The president of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum announces the attraction will soon be on the move.
Bob Kendrick announced plans to build a new facility at 1810 Paseo Blvd. to house the museum.
The new building will be 30,000 square feet and include the latest technology to promote diversity, inclusion, and equality, while telling the stories of the stars who played in the Negro Leagues and overcame social adversity to play the game they loved, according to Kendrick.
The new building will be located adjacent to the Buck O’Neil Education and Research Center, which is housed in former Paseo YMCA building.
Kendrick said the new home of the Negro Leagues Museum is 33 years in the making.
The Negro Leagues Baseball Museum has been in its current home, a city-owned building at 1616 E. 18th St., since 1997.
“As it is, we pay a dollar a year to have the rights to be here in this space,” Kendrick said in an interview with WDAF-TV Tuesday. “But we also through our partnership said, ‘We will raise the money to build our own exhibit. You build us a shell. We will build our own exhibit.'”
In the last 25 years, they’ve started to outgrow their current home, though.
The museum’s seen a tremendous amount of support from the Kansas City Royals ever since they started making the month of February free to all visitors. They started doing that in February 2022. That month, more than 7,000 people came through their doors free.
“This year, over 14,000 people visited this museum free of charge thanks to the support of Royals Charities and the Kansas City Royals,” Kendrick said during the press conference.
After that part of Tuesday’s press conference, Kendrick brought up Royals Chairman and CEO John Sherman. After the news conference, Sherman said this announcement isn’t connected with his desire for a new Royals stadium.
“We’re longtime supporters of the Negro Leagues as Bob said today,” Sherman said in an interview with WDAF-TV Tuesday. “We’ll continue to be partners with them on the long term.”
Jackson County Executive Frank White, who played with the Kansas City Royals, says he knows how much the new building would mean to the players in the Negro Leagues.
“This was a dream of all the Negro Leagues players. This is what Buck O’Neil, this is what they wanted to see. We’re sitting here today in that first dream. Today, that dream just took another step and I’m sure all those guys looking down on us now are really excited about where we’ve gone with this museum,” White said.
Bank of America awarded the museum a $1 million grant to help the new facility become reality. The project is expected to cost about $25 million. The museum has a capital campaign underway to raise the remainder of the funding.
“Well number one, you never have all the money need, no matter what,” Kendrick said when asked if they have all the money needed for this new project. “No, this will be a fundraising effort. We anticipate a 5-year campaign to raise these funds.”
The Negro Leagues Baseball Museum already owns The Paseo YMCA building at 1824 Paseo, which is the Buck O’Neil Education and Research Center. That building’s the same spot where eight Negro League Baseball owners met on Feb. 13, 1920, to form the Negro National League.
“Sometimes people will ask why the Negro Leagues Museum is in Kansas City. It is because Kansas City is the birthplace of the Negro Leagues,” Kendrick continued. “So we’ve been working to save that historic landmark for quite some time.”
Kendrick said he expects the new campus to become the gateway into Kansas City’s famed Historic 18th & Vine District.
He’d like to be in the new facility by 2028, but he said they could be in their new facility even sooner than that.