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.

Established in 1966

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.