WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – The Kansas Stars will not return next year to the NBC World Series. The announcement was made Tuesday morning.
The organization said it was because the hotel and casino previously booked a major convention for the next several years that coincides with the dates of the tournament.
This year, the tournament was moved up week to allow for the attendance of the Stars.
Kevin Jenks, the General Manager and Tournament Director for the NBC World Series, says two years ago, without the Kansas Stars, he says 44,000 people attended the tourney.
That jumped to 55,000 the past two years with the Kansas Stars as the big-ticket draw.
Grant Jones is the General Manager of the Haysville Aviators, one of the many teams made up of college players who hit the field every summer for the tournament.
He spoke about how he felt the Stars impacted the NBC World Series.
“I think they maybe reintroduced the NBC to some old fans and maybe brought some news fans and kind of energized the NBC quite a bit,” said Jones.
After losing the Stars, the big question now is how will the NBC will keep the community interested in the tournament.
“We need to get creative, we need to get to work and makes some things happen like that, whether it’s bringing in a concert or if its finding a big name out there to come in and sign autographs,” said Jenks.
Jenks says even without the Stars, the exposure they brought to the tournament the past two years will be a benefit.
“The Stars coming here brought a lot of people back to the NBC, as fans, and also created more fans for us, so it’s on us to capitalize on that inventory, if you want to call it, those fans, and get them to come back, without the Stars being here,” said Jenks.
It’s a sentiment echoed by Jones.
“I think it did give us a boost, but we have some pretty loyal fans for the NBC and some of those that came over for the Stars, I think will stay,” said Jones.
Jenks spoke about challenges, one that included a better stadium.
Lawrence Dumont was built in the 1930’s, and was last renovated more than 15 years ago.
Jenks hopes, what he calls a big baseball community, will help fans to look past the outdated facility to keep the tournament rolling smoothly into its 84th year of existence.
Today, Nate Robertson released a statement on behalf of the Stars, explaining why they won’t be taking part in the 2018 NBC World Series.
Read the statement below:
On behalf of myself, Adam LaRoche, and the rest of the Kansas Stars players and families, we would first like to thank the many individuals and companies who made the last two years such a memorable NBC World Series experience.
As baseball players, we have a passion for the game and a desire to compete, in spite of our age. The World Series offered that competitive platform that allowed us to get back on the field and play meaningful games again.
Playing games that matter was the driving force that brought this group of players together, providing us with the opportunity to give back to various Wichita charities through autograph signings, donations, and partnering with the Wichita Wingnuts for our first annual Hit-a-Thon.
Exhibition opportunities exist worldwide, but these players took time out of their busy schedules and chose to invest in the Wichita area to entertain the great fans of this community.
It has been a highlight for this town and has put Wichita front and center through major media outlets and nationally televised ESPN programming.
We are especially thankful to our number one sponsor and home base, the Kansas Star Casino, that bent over backwards to accommodate us.
That being said, we will not be able to attend the NBC World Series in 2018 because the hotel and casino previously booked a major convention for the next several years that coincides with the dates of the tournament.
Even though the same problem occurred in 2017, the NBC moved the tournament up a week to allow for the attendance of the Stars. However, the NBC has returned the tournament back to the original dates for 2018, which now presents the conflict.
From a personal standpoint, being a Stars founder and homegrown Wichitan, this doesn’t make the decision easy. Although I would never want this team to leave our town, going forward we will now have to explore the other options for the Stars.
Judging by the turnout of the fans at our games and the Stars interactions with the other teams, we hope we gave back in a way any ambassador of the game should. We wish the tournament well in its years to come.
Thanks again to all of those who believed in this vision; it was our “field of dreams” moment and we hope it made lifelong memories for all who witnessed it.