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Future for Chiefs, Royals in Kansas City in doubt after fans reject sales tax

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The futures of the Kansas City Royals and Chiefs were thrown into question Tuesday night when residents of Jackson County, Mo., voted outright against a sales tax measure that would have helped fund a new downtown baseball stadium as well as major projects. Arrowhead Stadium renovations.

Royals owner John Sherman and Chiefs president Mark Donovan acknowledged well before the final tally that the initiative would fail.

More than 58 percent of voters ultimately rejected the plan, which would have replaced the existing three-eighths of a cent sales tax that funds maintenance of the Truman Sports Complex — home to Kauffman and Arrowhead stadiums for more than 50 years —. with a similar tax that would have been in effect for the next 40 years.

Kansas City voters rejected the tax measure. P.A.

The Royals, who had pledged at least $1 billion for their project, wanted to use their share of the tax revenue to help finance a rough neighborhood worth more than $2 billion.

The Super Bowl champion Chiefs, who committed $300 million in private money, reportedly used their share as part of an $800 million overhaul of Arrowhead Stadium.

“We are deeply disappointed because we firmly believe that Jackson County is better off with the Chiefs and Royals,” said Sherman, who left without answering questions. “As someone whose roots run deep in this city, who has been a devoted fan and season ticket holder for both of these teams, and who now leads a remarkable ownership group.”

Donovan said the Chiefs will do “what is in the best interest of our fans and our organization as we move forward.”

This could mean a lot of things: The Chiefs could try again with a reworked plan more palatable to voters, change their entire funding approach to include more private investment, or they could even listen to offers from competing cities and states – like Kansas, just opposite. the state border to the west – that would provide the public funding they want.

Royals owner John Sherman addresses the crowd at an election watch party after voters rejected extending a sales tax to fund a new ballpark for the Royals and renovations for the Chiefs football stadium. P.A.

“We talked a lot about the democratic process. We respect the process,” Donovan said. “We believe we have presented the best offer for Jackson County. We are ready to extend the long-standing partnership the teams enjoy with this county.

The current lease for the Truman Sports Complex lasts until January 31, 2031.

And although Sherman said the Royals won’t play at Kauffman Stadium beyond the 2030 season, the Chiefs hope to stay at Arrowhead Stadium.

The tax — or, more accurately, the stadium plans — received strong public resistance almost from the start, when teams struggled to present concrete plans to voters and were accused of a lack of transparency throughout the process. .

The Royals have said they will not play at Kauffman Stadium after 2030. P.A.

Last fall, the Royals unveiled two potential locations for their baseball district, one east of downtown and one across the Missouri River in Clay County, W. Missouri.

But their self-imposed deadline to finalize their location expired without a plan, and in February they finally announced they had abandoned both concepts and chosen another location downtown.

The new neighborhood, known as Crossroads, is home to a vibrant arts and dining scene, and is just blocks from T-Mobile Center and the bustling Power & Light entertainment district.

It’s also near the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts and the 18th & Vine area, home to the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum.

But even then, the plans remained vague.

The latest rough renderings became obsolete last week when the Royals acquiesced to Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas’ request that a main street that would have been part of the stadium’s footprint remain open; Lucas did not approve the tax initiative until the Royals agreed to the change.

“I think everyone has the same mixed feelings,” said Deidre Chasteen, a voter in Independence, Mo., who remembers attending games downtown, at the old Municipal Stadium, when the Royals played there from 1969 to 1972.

“We don’t mind paying the three-eighths cent sales tax. I think the problem is putting the stadium where it is,” Chasteen said. “We are saying that we should not ruin businesses that have been established there for years.”

Chiefs Chairman Mark Donovan addresses the crowd at an election watch party after voters rejected extending a sales tax to fund a new ballpark for the Royals and renovations for the Chiefs football stadium. P.A.

The club also had not reached sales agreements with many Crossroads property owners, and other businesses had expressed concerns about traffic, congestion and parking in an already thriving residential area.

Sarah Tourville, executive vice president of the Royals, said the goal is to move into the stadium by Opening Day in 2028.

The Royals moved from Municipal Stadium to Kauffman Stadium in 1973 and completely renovated the ballpark from 2009 to 2012.

Arrowhead Stadium was built next to Kauffman Stadium and was also renovated around the same time.

While the Royals insisted on playing in a new ballpark, the Chiefs wanted to stay put with a renovation that would have touched every aspect of their 52-year-old building, from the seats to the luxury amenities to the tailgating scene.

“We would not be willing to sign a lease for another 25 years without the funding to properly renovate and reimagine the stadium,” said Chiefs Chairman Clark Hunt, whose father, Lamar Hunt, helped build the stadiums existing, said before Tuesday’s vote. “The financing puzzle is very important to us to ensure we have enough funds to achieve everything we have outlined.”

The Chiefs had hoped their success, including three Super Bowl titles in the last five years, would sway voters in their favor.

“What my dad loved most about the stadium was the connection the team had with our fans,” Hunt said. “He loved this building for what it means to fans, and we still believe it is one of the best stadiums in the National Football League and a must-visit destination for fans of the NFL.”

New York Post

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