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Buck O'Neil Center repairs to begin early next year, thanks to donations, city support

Vandal caused $500,000 in damage in June
Posted: 9:04 PM, Dec 21, 2018
Updated: 2018-12-22 04:18:44Z
Buck O'Neil Center
Buck O'Neil Center Ballroom
Buck O'Neil Center Damage

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Six months after a vandal slashed a water line at the Buck O'Neil Education and Research Center, a tidal wave of a different kind is making repairs possible.

"This wonderful outpouring of love from the public started to occur," said Negro Leagues Baseball Museum President Bob Kendrick.

The damage totaled about $500,000. Through small donations, roughly $100,000 piled up. Now the city is loaning $217,000 in federal grant money to help, and repairs will begin early next year.

"I feel, and I think that all of us know that this is an authentic piece of Kansas City history," Councilman Jermaine Reed said.

Once the damage is reversed, ownership will transfer to the city. Then it will be time for construction.

Renovation of the Buck O'Neil Center is just one piece of a long-term plan to redevelop 18th and Vine. This week KCMO City Council also passed $10 million to fund "Phase Two" of the initiative. That includes $2.9 million for the Buck O'Neil Center.

Buck O'Neil Center Renovations
A rendering of what the Buck O'Neil Center will look like after renovations. (Courtesy: Pendulum Architects)

"I think there has been a renewed sense of pride into the district, and it's a renewed sense of hope," Reed said.

A committee report found the $7 million included in "Phase One" led to $45 million in private investment.

Now, the dream is to finish the Buck O'Neil Education and Research Center by February of 2020. It will mark the 100th anniversary of the founding of negro leagues baseball in that very building.

"He seemed to always bring joy out of despair, and we see the same thing happening right now in the spirit of the legendary Buck O'Neil," Kendrick said.

You can donate to the renovation effort here.