Missouri gubernatorial candidates sound off on Chiefs stadium proposals

There remains a deep divide among Missouri governor hopefuls on what, if anything, the state should do to entice the Kansas City Chiefs to stay at the Truman Sports Complex. The issue has percolated after voters rejected a sales tax proposal that would have funded upgrades to the stadium.

By

State News

June 7, 2024 - 3:09 PM

The view of GEHA Field At Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri, before the Kansas City Chiefs play host to the Las Vegas Raiders on Oct. 10, 2022. Photo by Erik Verduzco/Las Vegas Review-Journal/TNS

The leading candidates to be Missouri’s next governor disagree on whether the state should offer incentives to keep the Kansas City Chiefs from relocating to Kansas.

On Tuesday, the top Republican lawmakers in Kansas announced that they had reached out to the Chiefs organization to urge the team to consider moving across the state line. To sweeten the deal, the state could consider issuing hundreds of millions of dollars in bonds to finance construction of a new stadium.

Gov. Mike Parson, a Republican and Chiefs superfan, has said he will “do what he can to keep the Chiefs in Missouri.”

But he’s leaving office this year due to term limits. So with the Chiefs’ current lease at Arrowhead set to expire in January 2031, the issue could ultimately fall into the lap of whoever is elected to replace him in November.

And there is a deep divide among the candidates about what, if anything, to do.

Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft, the leading Republican candidate for governor, said he is “opposed to providing taxpayer subsidies to keep sports teams.”

Instead, Ashcroft said, if elected he would focus on public safety, education and lowering taxes “so that Missouri will be a destination state for teams, their players and all economic freedom loving Americans.”

State Sen. Bill Eigel, also a Republican candidate, said he’s confident that “the Chiefs will make the right decision and remain in Missouri, but it won’t be because of taxpayer handouts for sports teams or stadiums on my watch.”

Government, Eigel said, “shouldn’t be in the business of picking winners and losers. I’m going to ensure Missouri is a place where all people can thrive.”

On the other side of the issue in the GOP primary is Lt. Gov. Mike Kehoe. His campaign manager, Derek Coats, said Missouri deserves a governor “who will fight for jobs and economic growth.”

“Mike Kehoe will not watch passively as other states poach our businesses,” Coats said. “As governor, he will use every tool at his disposal to ensure Missouri is a state that welcomes investment, creates jobs and spurs economic growth.”

State Rep. Crystal Quade, a Democrat running for governor, said that any candidate who “claims they don’t care about the Arrowhead-sized hole losing the Chiefs would create is lying.

“We need to elect leaders who will work with the Chiefs,” she said, “to make sure all sides get a fair deal and keep our Super Bowl Champs playing football in Missouri for decades to come.”

Springfield businessman Mike Hamra, who is also a candidate in the Democratic primary, said Missourians take pride in being the home to the Chiefs.

“State leaders,” he said, “should explore every reasonable option to keep the Chiefs in Missouri.”

Kansas City Chiefs Chairman Clark Hunt has previously expressed interest in remaining in the Truman Sports Complex, which is where the Chiefs and Royals have had venues since 1973.

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