History of Sports Leadership in Kansas City
A privately funded, nonprofit membership organization launched in 1966, the Greater Kansas City Sports Commission and Foundation consists of the events and membership driven Greater Kansas City Sports Commission, the fundraising arm of the Greater Kansas City Sports Foundation, and the Women’s Intersport Network which is part of the Foundation.
The volunteer-led organization was founded on January 12, 1966 with the support of civic leaders: Ewing Kauffman, Earl Smith, Dutton Brookfield, Ray Evans, John McDermott, Ernie Mehl, Alex George and Bill Deramus. Ernie Mehl served as its first chairman.
The founding goals of the Sports Commission included increasing Chiefs season ticket sales; helping to bring a professional baseball team back to Kansas City; and rallying the public/private sector for the construction of a sports complex. In 1968, the Kansas City Sports Commission was instrumental in securing an expansion franchise, the Kansas City Royals Baseball Club, to come to Kansas City, as well as assisting with efforts to pass bond funding to build the innovative Truman Sports Complex.
Reorganized in 1989
In 1989, the 501(c)6 Greater Kansas City Sports Commission was officially revitalized including the Foundation which was designated a 501(c)3 organization. With a revised mission, an Executive Committee was formed along with 15 Charter Member Corporations. Promotional themes of “promoting Kansas City through sports” and “Sport KC” were adopted. The first paid staff member, Kevin M. Gray, was named Executive Director in 1989.
The Mid-America Lumbermen’s Association donated the first office space to house the Sports Commission. The growing organization then moved into The American Cancer Society building located at 1100 Pennsylvania in the spring of 1994. The Sports Commission landed at its current 5,000 square-foot headquarters in the fall of 2000. The historic home located in downtown Kansas City at 1308 Pennsylvania Avenue was renovated into office space and renamed, “The McGuff Sports Center.”
The McGuff Sports Center – Joseph T. McGuff
On December 8, 2000, The Kansas City Sports Commission & Foundation headquarters was named The McGuff Sports Center after Joseph T. McGuff for his many contributions and efforts for the organization and Kansas City sports.
A prominent member of the Kansas City sports scene for over 40 years, Joe was elected to the executive committee of the Kansas City Sports Commission & Foundation in 1994. He served as Chair from 1995-1997 and remained active as Chairman Emeritus. He was also elected to the Kansas City Royals Board of Directors in 1994 and was instrumental in helping keep the Royals in Kansas City until ownership was identified. Along with another former executive committee member and past chair, Bill Hall, they raised the $50 million from the community for the Kauffman Succession Plan.
“Joe McGuff was a man with high integrity who cared deeply about Kansas City,” said Kevin M. Gray. “I could always count on his advice knowing it was given with a sense of authority you knew was above reproach.”
Mr. McGuff retired from the Kansas City Star on May 1, 1992 after serving as Vice President and Editor since 1986. He joined The Star in 1948 as a sportswriter and was named Sports Editor in 1966.
While Joe McGuff’s distinguished career as a writer took him around the world to cover a wide variety of major sporting events (World Series, Super Bowls, Olympics), he was widely recognized for his work covering Major League Baseball. He was named to the writers’ wing of the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown New York in 1985 and was named “Mr. Baseball” at the 1983 Kansas City Baseball Awards
The Tulsa, Oklahoma native authored two books: “Winning It All” and “Why Me? Why Not Joe McGuff?” The first book was written about the Kansas City Chiefs Super Bowl championship season of 1969-70. The second book is a collection of his columns.
He was named outstanding sports writer in Missouri six times by the National Sports Writers Association and he served as national President of the Baseball Writers and Associated Press Sports Editors. He is also a member of the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame and the Earl Smith Greater Kansas City Amateur Sports Hall of Champions.
In 2008 the conference room of the Joe McGuff Sports Center was renamed the John S. McDermott Conference Room. John was a great friend and supporter of the Kansas City Sports Commission & Foundation (KCSC&F) and was one of the co-founders and former president. John was named 1985 Man of the Year by the KCSC&F. In 1999, John was honored for his distinguished service to KCSC&F by Major League Baseball Hall of Famer George Brett.
As president of the Junior Chamber of Commerce in 1953-54, John was instrumental in bringing Major League Baseball to Kansas City from Philadelphia. He later helped to re-establish professional baseball in Kansas City when the community was awarded the Royals franchise. He was a charter member and past president of the Royal Lancers and recipient of the Mr. Baseball Award in 1984. John was past president of the Kansas City Chiefs Red Coaters.