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Statement game

Royals fans set to protest at Yankees game Friday

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Posted: Tuesday April 27, 1999 07:11 PM


KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) -- Wearing T-shirts that read "Share the wealth," and turning their backs every time the visitors bat, baseball fans are planning a protest Friday when the rich New York Yankees play cash-strapped Kansas City.

Organized by radio station KCTE, the protest is aimed at bringing attention to the growing disparity throughout major league baseball between small- and big-market teams and urging owners to agree to revenue-sharing.

Kevin Kietzman, sports director for the station, said about 3,000 people had picked up their T-shirts by Tuesday morning and promised to take part.

"We plan to fill up the entire left-field general admission section," said Kietzman, who got the idea from people who listen to his daily sports-talk show.

The disparity between small- and large-market teams has become acute in Kansas City since the death in 1993 of Ewing Kauffman, the billionaire who founded the team and lavished money on it. The Royals, whose payroll is down to around $24 million, were 0-10 last season against a Yankees team with a payroll of more than $65 million.

Kietzman said the Yankees will make around $500,000 in radio and television rights fees for Friday's game while the Royals get around $25,000.

"We are not there to bash the Yankees," said Kietzman. "These people are passionate about baseball. They want to protect baseball."

The group plans to wave dollar bills at the Yankees players as they walk into the stadium, then line up early to buy seats in the left field general admission section.

"We're hopeful we'll have left field GA all to ourselves," Kietzman said.

The T-shirts will have "We love the Royals" on the front and "Share the wealth" on the back. Every time the Yankees come to bat, group members will turn their backs to the field. After the third inning, they'll all get up and tape skeletons to their seats with signs that say, "Small markets are dying."

Then they'll all walk out of the stadium, cross Interstate 70 to the Adams Mark Hotel and watch the rest of the game on television.

The Royals are not involved in the protest.

"Our position is we're not endorsing it and we're not against it," said Mike Levy, vice president for marketing and communications. "We just want to make sure everyone is safe. We'll be prepared for additional people in that general admissions area."

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