Chiefs, Royals’ futures in Kansas City thrown for loop after voters reject stadium tax

April 3, 2024
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The futures of the Chiefs and Royals in Kansas City, Missouri, were thrown off on Tuesday after voters rejected a sales tax measure that would have backed major renovations to Arrowhead Stadium and helped fund a new ballpark for the MLB team.

More than 58% of voters in Jackson County rejected the plan, which would have replaced an existing three-eighths of a cent sales tax that had been paying for the upkeep of the Truman Sports Complex with a similar tax that would have been in place for the next 40 years. The complex is home to both Arrowhead and Kauffman Stadiums.

The Royals sought to use their share of the tax revenue to help fund a $2 billion-plus ballpark district. The team had pledged $1 billion from ownership.

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Missouri voter in 2024

Jeff Gaeth votes Tuesday, April 2, 2024, at Yellow Rock Barn in Kansas City, Missouri. Voters were asked to decide whether to extend a sales tax to fund a new baseball stadium for the Royals and football stadium improvements for the Chiefs. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

The Chiefs sought to use their share of the tax revenue to help fund $800 million in renovations to Arrowhead Stadium. Ownership committed $300 million to the plan.

“We’re deeply disappointed as we are steadfast in our belief that Jackson County is better with the Chiefs and the Royals,” Royals team owner John Sherman said. “As someone whose roots run deep in this town, who has been a dedicated fan and season-ticket holder for both of these teams, and now leading a remarkable ownership group.”

Chiefs president Mark Donovan, who already teased the possibility of the Chiefs leaving Jackson County, said the organization would do “what is in the best interest of our fans and our organization as we move forward.”

“We’ve been talking a lot about the democratic process. We respect the process,” Donovan said. “We feel we put forth the best offer for Jackson County. We’re ready to extend the long-standing partnership the teams have enjoyed with this county.”

Chiefs president Mark Donovan talks to the crowd

Chiefs president Mark Donovan speaks during an election watch party after voters rejected the extension of a sales tax to provide funding for a new baseball stadium for the Royals and renovations for the Chiefs’ stadium, Tuesday, April 2, 2024, in Kansas City. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

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The Royals have been playing in the ballpark known as “The K” since 1973 when it opened as Royals Stadium. The name was changed to Kauffman Stadium to honor the team’s fisrt owner, Ewing Kauffman. It underwent its last major renovation in 2009.

In the fall, the organization unveiled two potential locations for a new ballpark – the eastern edge of downtown Kansas City or across the river in Clay County. But in February, after a self-imposed deadline passed, the organization scrapped both plans and chose a new area, called the Crossroads near the city’s Power & Light district and the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum.

The new Royals plans faced a roadblock when Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas said the organization couldn’t shut down a major street as part of the stadium’s footprint. The Royals agreed to the change. Royals executive vice president Sarah Tourville said the goal was to move into a new stadium in 2018.

The Chiefs wanted to stay in Arrowhead with a hefty overhaul, which would have included renovations to the seating from the bowl to luxury amenities to the tailgating.

John Sherman talks to the crowd

Kansas City Royals owner John Sherman addresses the crowd during an election watch party, Tuesday, April 2, 2024, in Kansas City. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

“We would not be willing to sign a lease for another 25 years without the financing to properly renovate and reimagine the stadium,” Chiefs chairman Clark Hunt said before the vote. “The financing puzzle is very important to us to make sure we have enough funds to do everything we’ve outlined.”

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Voters had accused executives of both teams of a lack of transparency in their plans.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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