OTC: Dave Helling Gives Kietzman A Lesson In Contract Law & Jumping To Conclusions

“I don’t think anyone has told me that what [both the Chiefs and the Royals] are doing is illegal. Maybe they have said they broke the law to you, but I haven’t heard that. … Once you create a slush fund, it’s hard to complain about what is spent on slush. The problem isn’t the way the Royals and Chiefs spend this money. It’s that’s there is this fund to begin with.”
Dave Helling, 810 AM
GH: Kudos for Kietzman for inviting Helling on his show for a live debate on this issue. Either KK wanted to promote another viewpoint on how the Chiefs and Royals are spending tax dollars or he woefully underestimated his ability to verbally spar with Helling on a political/tax issue. Knowing how KK does not like to be made the fool, I am guessing the latter. 
Read on.

“Dave Helling is the best news reporter I have ever worked with. He is the best political reporter I have ever worked with. And he is the best news producer I have ever worked with. I absolutely think the world of you. I can’t imagine that anybody in the media has had more impact than you have over the last how many years.”
Kevin Kietzman, as he introduced the Kansas City Star business reporter, 810 AM
GH: Whoever posts the audio files for KK’s podcasts on the WHB website must not be nearly as informed about Helling’s prowess. The WHB website lists him as “Dan” Helling. 

“We’ve both been in this business a long time. Sometimes a story needs a real hook that you go, ‘Oh my gosh! This is going to grab the reader or listener.’ ”
Kevin Kietzman, 810 AM
GH: I understand that talk radio is not a fertile field of journalistic ethics. But KK’s breaking stories are too often about the baited hook and not about the catch. While pointing this out was not Helling’s intent, it was the result. Read on. 

“The Royals and the Chiefs are really, really smart and they’re really, really good. And they pulled one over everybody’s eyes. They really did!”
Kevin Kietzman, attempting to convince an unconvinced Helling that his story on the Royals’ misspending tax payer funds had teeth, 810 AM

“Do you think though that the public is prepared to lose either franchise over this dispute? Do you think Jackson Countians are so upset over this that they are prepared to lose the teams?”
Dave Helling, 810 AM
GH: KK and Helling disagreed on whether or not Kansas City could be in jeopardy of losing one or both teams. KK is adamant they would not go but Helling thinks a new owner might be tempted to find another city that would be more profitable.

“I don’t want to defend the teams and I didn’t come on your show [to do that]. I really don’t have a dog in the hunt, other than to say everyone should be clear on what’s going on – as clear as they can be. The fact is the teams are very smart and whether it happened in the last six months or just ahead of [signing the agreement], they were clearly intent on getting something in the lease agreement that would defray some of their costs. In exchange for that, they agreed to put a cap on future tax payer responsibilities for improvements to the stadiums.”
Dave Helling, 810 AM
GH: Helling presented this cap as a fair trade off for the teams to spend the funds at their discretion. He cited past contracts that contained no cap and placed the county in peril of paying unlimited costs for the stadiums’ upkeep.

“There’s nothing eminent. There’s no [law] suit that’s been filed. I’m not even sure on what basis it would be filed. The desire of everyone I’ve talked to is that the dispute be settled without involving the legal system. I don’t think the teams want to force default. And I don’t think the county wants to enter into a default on the rental agreements either.”
Dave Helling, after Kietzman spoke of the possibility of the county suing the Royals, 810 AM
GH: Helling’s approach in this argument was steady, controlled and confident. He wasn’t trying to show Kietzman up or pound the drum for either the Royals or Chiefs. In other words, he took a 180-degree different approach to this topic than Kietzman. I found the contrast to be informative and entertaining radio. You can listen to the entire half-hour interview here.

and Twitter / greghall24

About Greg Hall

Software guy who has been writing my Off The Couch column in KC newspapers, publications and websites since 1994. Has been bounced from some of the finest media establishments this side of State Line Road. Dad first and everything else second...and there are a lot of everything elses.
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29 Responses to OTC: Dave Helling Gives Kietzman A Lesson In Contract Law & Jumping To Conclusions

  1. Bill says:

    Example No. 1 of why KK seldom offers a true counterpoint to his analysis.

  2. Steve says:

    KK was used by Mike Sanders, who I believe is the person who tipped him off about this, so the Sanders could get one of his friends appointed to the committee by Jay Nixon.

    KK was also used by Kay Barnes to get the Sprint Center vote passed in KC.

  3. The Word says:

    So in other words this si still a big story…OK I got you…

  4. chuck says:

    I get it that KK can be pretty annoying.

    That said, I was listening to the radio the day he “broke” this story (At this point, I am not sure if he broke it or not, so someone help me out here please.). I thought the expenditures by the Royals (I later found out the Chiefs do it too.) to be compelling information for some dubass luchbox guy like me.

    The gist of the story, to me, is that the Royals and Chiefs, have de facto permission to engage in what looks like economic legerdmain in order to placate the teams, while cooling out the tax paying citizen “marks”.

    That is a good story and KK brought it into the light of day in my opinion.


  5. Juan De Guzman says:


  6. Smartman says:

    What the Chiefs and Royals are doing is not illegal. It is shady and embarrassing. The fact that the language that allows them to do this is in the lease agreement begs the question how did it get in there and why. Who was the shitty lawyer that was supposed to be representing the taxpayers?

    Both teams are making money. They would make even more money if they were owned and led by individuals with a true passion and desire for winning. There is NO WAY IN HELL with the fan base in Kansas City that the NFL or MLB will allow these teams to move in the next 50 years.

    • Larry Mondello says:

      See Cleveland, Baltimore, LA, Seattle, Montreal, etc. Teams will and can move without a word from MLB or the NFL. I could see the Chiefs settling into LA very nicely. I could also see the Royals in Nashville, Las Vegas, Brooklyn, Charlotte, San Antonio, Oklahoma City, Salt Lake City, etc.

  7. rkcal says:

    Kansas City is a consistent, stable, (boring, unexciting) conservative and not prone to taking risks. And guess what? That describes our sports teams and the owners of our teams (Sporting KC excepted, but that’s a different animal). Dynamic owners that want to grab the brass ring are NOT going to be excited by maintaining a team in our plaid little burg. Especially when there exists unserved markets (listed in post above) that offer so much more potential. I think it’s highly likely new owners would at least explore moving the Chiefs/ Royals. This is what Helling gets that KK does not.

  8. Jim says:

    Pro sports teams being sunsidized by taxpayers? What?! Say it isn’t so!!

    I think Helling made the ultimate point regarding the entire issue. The question of whether or not to subsidize professional sports teams was answered LONG, LONG ago. Everyone, and I mean everyone, does it. Kansas City has been doing it for decades. The means and method of that subsidy varies from city to city. But, taxpayers continually approve the team’s / county’s / city’s right to do it.

    People DO have the ability to say “NO”. But the vast majority of people place a larger importance on having major league teams in their city as opposed to NOT paying the taxes to keep them there. The fact that Chicken Little (a.k.a. KK) doesn’t like the WAY the teams spend the money is beside the point.

  9. JP says:

    I agree with a number of the posters. The teams (while I don’t think they will move) could explore that if the lease dispute gets into litigation. When KK opened this door, I know his motive was to embarrass the Royals. He is still smarting over the downtown stadium, and always makes crass comments at the Royals. Unfortunately, the Royals have given KK in return plenty of ammo to use against them.

    If you connect the dots, Sanders leaked this to KK, who got his big “Scoop”. If the teams’ started looking to break the lease, then they could explore moving. I don’t think there’s another available baseball market, but don’t kid yourself. Los Angeles is waiting for an NFL team, and will spend loads of money to obtain one. I am starting to believe KK is now regretting opening this Pandora’s Box.

    • Will says:

      The NFL is going to let LA have a football team any time they want one. I don’t buy that “they are looking for a team” and I don’t think enough people in LA want a team. They’re all too busy trying to attract attention upon themselves.

      • Sean says:

        The biggest problem is LA is that it is a dump that is bloated and mismanaged. They have no Pro Stadium that could generate anywhere near the revenue. LA fans are extreme bandwagoners. They don’t draw at USC unless they are undefeated. Never draw at UCLA. They can’t get Farmer’s Field built due to all of legal challenges and soil surveys and other crap they’ve been dealing with. Eventually it will happen as AEG is behind it and they want to place it next to LA Live (sound familiar?) and Staples Center.

        Further, just down the road are the Chargers, who play in another dump of a stadium. The Chargers do not draw well, are actively marketing to opposing fans to attend games, and are poised to move to LA because San Diego refuses to bend over to do an arena or stadium after the tax payer subsidies of Petco Park.

  10. Caius says:

    I’m tired of being held up by sports teams on the threat of their departure. So the choice is, pass bond issues and don’t ask too many questions or we’ll take our losing show to another city and see if they’ll fall for it?

    See ya. Any owner worth his salt would love to move his pro football or baseball team to KC. This town goes nuts for even a couple of wins in a row. We’re as loyal as battered wives and we’ve shown we are willing to suffer through decades of losing asking little in return. When are we going to stop saying we fell down the stairs?

  11. chuck says:

    Tony Botello kept whining about the Chiefs and Royals until I actuall went to th trouble of looking up some studies on the economic benefits of Pro Sports Teams in YOUR city.

    The jury is WAY out.

    Here are some urls concerning Minn.


    This from the Cato Institute. These guys are pretty damn good, and if they say no, ya gotta take it seriously in my opinion.


    Now different people have different ideas about cost benefits, in that the benefits to one guy or group, mean a lot more to them, than other groups.

    Still, checkin out the dollar for dollar trade out, eh…..?

  12. chuck says:

    I guess, if your gonna have a discussion on the postive economic efficacy (Howdya like that one Mr. Olathe?) of pro sports teams, then you would now, with the new information that we have from this latest brohaha, have to take into consideration, the fact that the pro sports owners and some city officials are disingenuous.

    I know what you’re thinking, “What a shock Chuck”, but this current prima facie evidence of philisophical malfeasance, is a correlation to real malfeasance.

    Just sayin…

  13. chuck says:

    Mr. Olathe, I mean they are in our fuckin faces with bullshit and used car sales guy smiles.

    It’s like a fuckin surprise undercoat we didn’t know we bought.


  14. Caius says:


    A little research on the actual return on investment for cities with sports franchises.

    • chuck says:

      That is excellent, I posted a couple, one from the cato Institute, but my comment is waiting “Moderation”.

      • chuck says:


        I am reading yours and it is better than mine anyway.

        Good info.

        • chuck says:


          That is the best article I have read on Pro Sports and stadiums built to date.

          I love the “Multipliers” and the “Second Alternative”.


          Excellent article.

          • Caius says:

            Thank you, but all I did was bring it into the discussion. I’d like to see some newer data, but this is telling enough for my taste.

            I remember the sports talk in this town scaring the pants off everyone when more money was to be squeezed from the masses. All the nonsense from people like Petro, who subscribe to the ‘economic development’ quasi-myth of sports franchises. I distinctly remember him saying that without the Royals and/or Chiefs that we’d be another Omaha. Incredibly silly thing to say, but that’s Petro.

            You get used to that kind of ignorance on talk shows of any kind, but it’s as if for these guys there’s no world beyond sports and their love for it. Oh wait.

  15. KC GUY says:

    KK makes BIG NEWS out of BS.
    *KSU s exclusion from # 1 in the BCS. This was not a plot against KSU! They played a weak schedule. KK brought this issue up every day for 3 years in the 90s.
    * MU to the BIG 10! Bet on it!
    He rides these issues like a horse, right into the ground.
    After he went anti MU last year I turned the channel and did not look back.

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