Missouri Minute: Chiefs to reduce stadium capacity; Pizza Hut franchisee could shutter 300 stores

Good morning, MBA readers,

The Kansas City Chiefs have announced that there will be fans in the stands when they kick off their season next month. Professional sports such as baseball have gone without fans since restarting, even placing cardboard cutouts in stadium seats and piping in noise to mimic the presence of real crowds. The defending Super Bowl champion Chiefs, by contrast, will seek to strike a balance between in-stadium participation and social distancing. They will fill Arrowhead Stadium to 22% of capacity for their first few games, looking to capture a fraction of the revenue typically generated by ticket sales. Fans whose football viewing agenda involves ordering pizza and watching games from the comfort of the couch may want to check on the pizza piece of that plan. NPC International, the Kansas City-area restaurant group that is the largest franchisee of Pizza Huts, could shutter as many as 300 stores nationally as it navigates Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Plus, after water-logged fields prevented planting at record levels in 2019, new data show the weather was far more favorable to Missouri farmers this year. Unplanted farmland in the state dropped over 60% from last year’s record-breaking totals.


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Chiefs to host games at 22% of stadium capacity 
The Kansas City Chiefs will allow fans but reduce Arrowhead Stadium seating capacity to about 16,700 people per game for the start of their season that begins next month. City officials have approved the plan, which would let season-ticket holders purchase “pods” of up to six tickets apiece. (Kansas City Star)

Amazon said to be pursuing expansion in St. Louis suburb
St. Louis-based developer CRG is creating “Project Smile,” a 36-acre development in St. Peters that sources say Amazon will use as a warehouse and distribution facility. (St. Louis Business Journal)

Largest Pizza Hut franchisee could close hundreds of stores 
Leawood, Kansas-based NPC International, which filed for bankruptcy on July 1, could close 300 of its more than 1,200 Pizza Hut locations to strengthen its business. A majority of stores that are being closed are dine-in restaurants. (Kansas City Business Journal)

St. Louis Zoo to close children’s zoo 
The attraction, which has been open for 51 years, was designed for interaction and high-touch experiences. It was deemed unsafe in a “COVID or post-COVID environment.” (KSDK)

Dierbergs Markets to host virtual ‘mega hiring’ event
The Chesterfield-based grocery chain will host an annual hiring event online for the first time as it looks to fill more than 100 positions. (St. Louis Post Dispatch)

Tobacco cessation classes suspended as many try to quit
Research suggests that about 10% of e-cigarette users have attempted to quit vaping because of COVID-19. However, due to the pandemic, cessation programs are increasingly difficult to find. (Columbia Missourian)

Arizona-based specialty contractor adds St. Louis office
AIMS Cos., which specializes in inspection and cleaning of industrial pipes, expanded into St. Louis and three other cities in the second quarter. (St. Louis Business Journal)

St. Louis firm secures financing for Baltimore hotel conversion 
Twain Financial Partners, a St. Louis-based investment manager, closed on $8.7 million in financing to renovate Latrobe Apartment House, a 109-year-old building near Baltimore that’s being converted into a hotel. (St. Louis Business Journal)

Virtual telethon raises $12,000 for Columbia businesses
The event organized by downtown Columbia business leaders had 3,300 views and raised $12,170 for businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. (Columbia Missourian)


Say that again

“It’s the largest unscrubbed coal plant in the country that doesn’t have a retirement date in the next 10 years, and it’s getting off scot-free.”

That’s Andy Knott, a St. Louis-based representative of the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign, commenting on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s proposal to declare the largest coal-fired power plant in Missouri has met air quality standards, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. Watchdogs say the Labadie Energy Center, owned by Ameren, has not installed air monitoring equipment needed to fully measure pollution emitted by the plant, and scientists have said that declaring the plant safe would be premature. The decision by the EPA could potentially allow the state’s largest utility to avoid paying hundreds of millions of dollars for pollution controls called “scrubbers.”


Go figure

453,352

That’s how many acres of Missouri farmland went unplanted this year due to rainfall, the Springfield News-Leader reports. That’s down about 67% from last year, when a record number of crops went unplanted because of wet weather conditions. This year, Barton County in southwest Missouri was hit hardest of any county in the state, with about 12.5% of acres there going unplanted. New numbers from the U.S. Department of Agriculture show that about 9.3 million acres weren’t planted across the U.S. this year, down from last year’s record of 19.6 million. Corn, soybean and wheat were the most affected crops this year, like in 2019.


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That’s Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas, commenting on what he saw while visiting various nightlife hotspots over the weekend to assess how restaurants and bars are implementing COVID-19 restrictions. The city recently extended its mask order into January in an effort to stem the rise of the coronavirus, but Lucas said in a string of tweets that businesses are an important piece of that puzzle. St. Louis has strengthened its restrictions on bars and restaurants after a number of them were found to be flouting the orders, and some businesses that are complying with restrictions have called for scofflaws to be punished. Lucas’ visit to businesses was prompted by a video of an event in Kansas City that revealed blatant violation of the city’s restrictions, the Kansas City Star reports.


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