Chiefs and Royals say they will remain in Kansas City if voters approve sales tax to fund

Kansas City’s NFL and MLB clubs hope to remain on the shore of the Missouri River, so long as local taxpayers are amenable.

The Chiefs and Royals announced Friday that both Kansas City franchises would remain in Jackson County, where Arrowhead and Kauffman stadiums are located, if voters there approve the extension of an existing sales tax that has long paid for their upkeep.

The stadiums, which opened in the early 1970s, are located at the Truman Sports Complex and have been tied to each other through lease agreements with the county for the past five decades. But with the current lease expiring in 2030-31, both teams are planning for the future of their facilities, and the Royals have indicated they want a new downtown ballpark.

The baseball club would use the extended sales tax to help fund the proposed park while the Chiefs would use it for Arrowhead Stadium renovations.

The Royals have been considering bids from Jackson County, where a new ballpark would be close to the existing T-Mobile Center and Power & Light entertainment district, and a competing offer from Clay County, which sits across the Missouri River.

Chiefs stars Patrick Mahomes (left) and Travis Kelce (right) are in no rush to leave Kansas City

Chiefs stars Patrick Mahomes (left) and Travis Kelce (right) are in no rush to leave Kansas City

Bobby Witt Jr.

The Royals play at Kansas City's Kauffman Stadium but want a new park

Bobby Witt Jr. (left) and the Royals play at Kansas City’s Kauffman Stadium but want a new park

A rendering of the Kansas City Royals' proposed stadium, which would likely be downtown

A rendering of the Kansas City Royals’ proposed stadium, which would likely be downtown

‘The Chiefs and the Royals have partnered with Jackson County for 50 years in a partnership that has worked well for all constituents,’ the teams said. ‘As part of the proposed agreement between the teams and Jackson County, the teams have agreed to provide more than $200 million in new economic benefits to Jackson County over 40 years in a new lease agreement.’

The agreement would alleviate the county’s obligation to pay stadium insurance premiums and redirect the park tax back to the county. Meanwhile, the Royals would privately fund a new $1 billion ballpark district around their new facility.

The Jackson County legislature is due to meet Monday, and the Chiefs and Royals will attempt to get the tax on the April ballot. If approved, that would clear the way for both teams to begin planning for construction and renovations.

‘The partnership between Jackson County, the Chiefs and Royals has been a tremendous success over the past 50 years, and directly responsible for much of the great momentum our hometown has built,’ the teams said.

‘The framework described here is a significant financial benefit for Jackson County, collaboratively built around concerns expressed by the county executive and other local leaders, and provides a further boost to Kansas City and the region for decades to come.’

The Royals unveiled some renderings of their proposed ballpark in August, showing two dramatically different locations for a replacement to the aging Kauffman Stadium.

The first location, called the East Village, would consist of a ballpark anchoring a 27-acre development just blocks away from the thriving Power & Light District, where T-Mobile Center already exists. The second location is a 90-acre tract across the Missouri River in Clay County, where the Royals would have more ability to develop commercial and residential properties.

A general view of the sky lighting up as the Kansas City Royals prepare for a game in July

A general view of the sky lighting up as the Kansas City Royals prepare for a game in July

Both plans were produced by Populous, the Kansas City-based sports architecture giant, which has been responsible for renovation or construction of more than 20 stadiums currently in use across MLB.

The Royals announced plans to leave Kauffman Stadium about two years ago. But progress has been slow in deciding on a path forward, given the myriad factors involved in the proposed $2 billion-plus ballpark and entertainment district.

Regardless of the site, Royals president of business operations Brooks Sherman said in August that the team is prepared to spend about $1 billion in private funds on the project, and they intend to move into their new stadium for opening day of the 2028 season.

‘That’s part of the equation is to ensure we’re negotiating properly and having the proper back and forth with each set of governing bodies — the elected leaders — and we’re doing that with both Clay County and Jackson County,’ Sherman said.

Arrowhead Stadium has been the Chiefs' home in Kansas City since the early 1970s

Arrowhead Stadium has been the Chiefs’ home in Kansas City since the early 1970s

The downtown site, which has long been viewed as the frontrunner, would lean into commercial and business possibilities to help drive the revenue that MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred has said is necessary for a small-market club to compete.

The proposed stadium, which Populous founder Earl Santee warned is not a final design, features swooping roof lines that are reminiscent of Kauffman Stadium. There is a homage to the fountains for which the existing park is known in right-center field and what Santee called ‘one of the most intimate seating bowls in all of baseball.’

Yet the stadium comes with drawbacks. Ingress and egress is already a challenge in the downtown corridor, and parking could be difficult, particularly for day games when existing parking is already taken up by those working in the area.

The location in North Kansas City would continue the revitalization of what was once a rundown industrial neighborhood.

Read More

Leave a comment

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. Accept Read More