QuikTrip fuels community improvement, but KC Royals fans voice outrage

DOUG HOKE/THE OKLAHOMAN / USA TODAY
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When the KC Royals announced QuikTrip as their official jersey patch partner, I thought it was a common sense partner. After all, the Oklahoma-based chain has stores near Kansas City dating back to 1968 and currently has 95 locations in the area. Few gas station foods are better than a buffalo chicken roller or QuikTrip's egg rolls, oddly enough. But, taking a glance at the social media response to the Royals' announcement revealed nothing but hate and discontent. All about a bright red patch.

The KC Royals partnering with QuikTrip was divisive, to say the least.

Kansas City became the 15th MLB team to announce a jersey patch, which has been allowed since the 2023 season. Some teams cashed in immediately and boisterously, such as the San Diego Padres with Motorola or the Miami Marlins with ADT. AL Central rivals Detroit Tigers and Cleveland Guardians debuted their respective sponsors last summer as well. This is hardly a rare thing amongst MLB teams anymore. But, the Royals partnership is still unique.

The partnership's revenue centers around investing back into the Kansas City community with literacy education initiatives. Whether it be mobile libraries, donating to Kansas City Public Schools, or "in-game and in-broadcast literary-related activations", this partnership can do a ton of good.

“It’s probably the most important partnership because our players wear it, and it’s our most important brand asset," said Royals executive vice president, chief commercial and community impact officer Sarah Tourville. "As they provided that opportunity to us, they were reversing it as a jersey patch. But to us, a jersey patch just didn’t seem like it was enough. As we started thinking about an ideal scenario, [it was about] much greater than, ‘What revenue can you generate from it?’ But how do we find a partner with the same values and beliefs, acts with the same heart and grit, who shares that same integrity from generation to generation.”

Why does it matter? After all, everyone learns to read in school right? Sure, but not to the same degree. According to the team's press release, 21% of third graders in the Kansas City public school system and charter schools are reading on grade level. Those atrocious levels put thousands of kids in the Kansas City area on a negative trend in life. Lower literacy rates directly correlate to reduced employment opportunities, lower income, higher hospital admission rates, and more adverse effects.

If the bright red patch meant more revenue for the team and ownership, fine. It is there jersey to do with what they want. I can understand selling advertising space. But, with money going back into the community, there isn't much to be mad about. That is how I think anyways. It is no skin of my back and my minute part as a Royals viewer helps improve children's lives. Talk about passive community service.

But the majority of responses featured calling the patch cheap, ridiculous, or trashy. And those are the G-rated responses.

I am not saying it is the most stylish option, but what does this hurt? Nothing. This patch, namely the sponsorship revenue it generates, does exponentially more good than harm to the Royals fanbase and Kansas City as a whole. This city came together after one of the area's most traumatic events in recent memory, yet are quick to decry something benefitting Kansas City's future.

I'm not saying you have to like it, but the negative reaction was certainly surprising. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion on the look, but weigh the patch's benefits for a millisecond. The people who, despite acknowledging the initiatives it funds and continued calling it a horrible move, disappointed me the most. No one should live for another's approval, but my Midwest upbringing revolved around helping improve my community where I can. Fans' inability to accept change and see the bigger picture fueled this negativity.

The QuikTrip patch is here to stay for multiple years, whether fans like it or not. This is a growing trend around baseball and sports as a whole. By the All-Star break, many will stop noticing it altogether. Like the pitch clock was good for baseball, this patch is good for Kansas City. All from a bright red patch.

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