It’s a new season, but longtime connections fly deep into the outfield for the Kansas City Royals and a fandom that’s supported them for decades. Among those most impacted: entrepreneurs whose stories run along the same baseline as the championship-winning baseball club.
“It might sound crazy, but I honestly credit a lot of our growth to when the Royals won the World Series in 2015,” said Adison Sichampanakhone, serial restaurateur and co-founder of Kansas City favorites Ice Cream BAE and Thaiger. “It felt like the city just grew exponentially with new local businesses and hasn’t stopped since then.”
Sichampanakhone and his wife and co-owner, Jackie, were among 16 small businesses and one community asset — the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum — featured in the Royals’ just-released “Welcome to the City” campaign. The debut commercial spot showcases Kansas City’s entrepreneurial spirit alongside a preview of the baseball club’s lineup in action.
“This team has that Midwestern work ethic; up early, at it late; brick by brick; never afraid to grind, never afraid of a little hard work, always out to prove people wrong,” the Royals say in the commercial, drawing parallels to the entrepreneurs shown on screen. “This team is the future of the Royals, of the city. Each swing gets us closer, each rep moves us forward. We’re building, we’re growing, and we’re hungry.”
The Sichampanakhones represented the Iron District, a container restaurant and entertainment complex in North Kansas City that’s home to the couple’s Thaiger restaurant concept.
“We are all small local businesses within the Iron District, so we felt really honored to be a small part of such a large collaboration within Kansas City,” said Adison Sichampanakhone. “ … It makes us proud. Kansas City has grown so much in the last few years, and we are excited for the future!”
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Earning a few seconds in the “Welcome to the City” opener also proved to be an honor for Vine Street Brewing, said Kemet Coleman, co-owner of the city’s first Black-owned brewery alongside Elliott Ivory and Woodie Bonds, Jr.
“Baseball has a rich history in Historic 18th & Vine; it’s where Rube Foster founded Negro Leagues Baseball. Our collaboration with The Royals is a testament to the unifying power of the sport and the significance it holds in our community,” said Coleman.
“For Vine Street Brewing, being part of this campaign highlights the Royals’ recognition and appreciation of the cultural significance of the Jazz District and our role as ambassadors of this historic neighborhood,” he continued. “We are proud to play a part in celebrating Kansas City culture and elevating the voices of our community. It’s truly a privilege to be a part of this project, and we are grateful for the opportunity to work with The Royals.”
Click here to read more about Vine Street Brewing and its soon-to-launch brick-and-mortar location at 2000 Vine.
Also featured in the “Welcome to the City” campaign: a familiar face to baseball fans, Sandlot Goods. One of Startland News’ Kansas City Startups to Watch in 2023, Sandlot not only produces the baseball-themed Yardball, but also Royals-inspired caps made entirely in Kansas City. The company scored a big league endorsement from and collaboration with Kansas City Royals infielder Nicky Lopez in 2022.
The full list of small businesses and organizations included in the video released this week include:
Watch the video below to see how many entrepreneurs and businesses you can tag, then keep reading.
In addition to featuring select small businesses and community members, the “Welcome to the City” initiative is expected to visually highlight locations across the city that often don’t see the spotlight. The idea is to really give a sense of who and what truly defines Kansas City, shared Tony Snethen, vice president of brand innovation for the Royals and Pine Tar Collective agency lead.
“(Royals Chairman and CEO) John Sherman told us in a company-wide meeting last year that we are stewards of this team and I think that really kind of stuck with us,” Snethen told Startland News previously. “We need to do something powerful for our community. While the Royals will always be our focus, we wanted to be very inclusive in our messaging about what the city means to us. We take a lot of pride in the city that we live in — whether it’s big businesses or small businesses — we’re fully supportive of everyone and we want this campaign to kind of feel that.”
Each element of the “Welcome to the City” campaign is expected to help paint a broader picture of Kansas City, he added, culminating in a creative reveal when the initiative draws to a close.
“At the end of the year, what we want to do is create a map where people can see all the locations that we used in our creative around the city and metro,” Snethen said. “Just to show that, ‘We see you, we hear you, and we’ve walked in the same steps as you.’ That’s how we want to bring it to life.”