It was the night of game six of the ALCS. Soon there would be a chorus of car horns, fireworks and fanatic celebrations across Kansas City, letting everyone know who won. Now, from the sides of buildings downtown, to all the fountains in Kansas City, everything is emblazoned in Royals blue.
Which is how Heidi Downer, the head of Marketing, Events and Media for KCMO Parks and Recreation wants it to be.
“The Royals sponsor all of the fountains,” Downer said. “So as soon as postseason play was confirmed we turned them blue.”
Downer explained how Kansas City organizations and businesses use everything in their power to capitalize on baseball’s popularity.
The Royals’ team flag flies on the Brush Creek bridge in the Country Club Plaza, the city logo banners featuring a baseball on every street pole downtown. These are the kind of marketing details that make up Downer’s, along with the city’s effort to feature the Royals everywhere they could. For Downer and Kansas City as a whole these displays are just business.
“Professional sports are an important asset and addition to the quality of life for cities that have them,” Downer said. “The economic impact from hosting postseason play is substantial to our city.”
Such tactics weren’t just used with the recent success of the Royals. During the 2012 Major League All-Star game, which was hosted at Kauffman stadium, Kansas City created the Kansas City Social Media Command Center to inform visitors coming for the All Star Game of tourist destinations within the city. The social media platform that the center primarily used was Twitter for the five day period before the game. Kansas City was mentioned in 30,000 tweets according to Spiral16, data collection website. During the week of the postseason games this year, Kansas City was mentioned in over 120,000 tweets, according to Topsy Twitter analytics.
Despite the income that the city receives from such advertisements, Downer realizes that the banners and fountains do more than that; they provide a sense of pride in the community.
“As the ‘City of Fountains,’ we recognize the important role our fountains play as sources of beauty and celebration,” Downer said.
The Student Section, the student store, has also taken notice of this influx of possible income surrounding the Royals. Currently featured in the store are T-shirts that mimic the style of the Royals logo, but replace Royals with Lancers.
“One of my students came in and said ‘this is what I was thinking’ and showed us the idea and then everyone approved it and loved it,” said Marketing teacher and The Student Section sponsor Mercedes Rasmussen. “It was because of the Royals fever that’s going on right now and so we thought it would be a great market for it under the circumstances.”
For students like junior Miranda Baggett, seeing people wearing Royals t-shirts adds a sense of community, despite the fact that they’re strangers. Baggett can simply call out the current game score and start a conversation.
“I like the bonding of it,” Baggett said, “Like how even if you have never talked to a person you can have this bond.”
This, bond, Baggett believes, recreates the baseball town Kansas City once was. Baggett’s mother always told her about school days in the ‘80s when students would skip school to attend Royals’ parades. She now sees the same mentality present when classrooms are stream the game.
“When the game was playing in the cafeteria or when you go to a restaurant and the Royals’ game is on, there is at least seven other tables with me who are non-stop watching the game,” Baggett said. “And when something happens, they all scream.”
Alongside Baggett, Junior Brena Levy believes that the Royals’ influence bleeds into almost every aspect of life in Kansas City. Before each Royals’ game, she gets a series of alerts from junior Coleman Brockmeier, who sends blue and crown emojis to an International Baccalaureate group chat.
“Even in our IB group chat we’ve talked about convincing a teacher to not have us turn in homework assignments day or move the test because the Royals are playing that night and we know we’ll be preoccupied by the game, “ Levy said.
Downer, Rasmussen, Baggett and Levy agree that Kansas City’s new-found appeal is a direct result of the Royals’ success. From economic income to a positive social environment, Kansas City is thriving.
“With the score 4 to 3 the Royals have won this sixth game and are going to the World Series!” `
The chorus of hundreds erupts across the city.