Kansas City ball club owners keep voters in the dark

Without more information, we see no reason to support another subsidy for the billionaires who own the Chiefs and Royals

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Editorials

March 7, 2024 - 2:34 PM

John Sherman, owner of the Kansas City Royals, announced Feb. 13 intentions to build a new ballpark in downtown Kansas City. The KC Chiefs also plan an $800 million renovation to Arrowhead Stadium. Both projects would depend on taxpayers approving a 3/8 cent sales tax on April 2. (Emily Curiel/The Kansas City Star/TNS)

We know firsthand that the Crossroads site where The Star used to be located, and where the Kansas City Royals want to build a new stadium, is a great spot. 1601 McGee would be a fun place to watch a ballgame. 

But then, so is The K. 

If team owner John Sherman wanted to build a new downtownish ballpark at his own expense, that would be fine. 

But after two years of talk about this new stadium, he has still not given us any reason to want to help a guy out with that. 

That’s especially true given that it would take properties valued at $33 million off the tax rolls. 

The Royals say they’re going to help those businesses they’d be putting under, but how, exactly? Like everything else about this deal, it’s TBA. 

The promised economic benefits have not materialized in many other cities where taxpayers have underwritten new ballparks. 

The Royals plus the Chiefs, who are at the last minute asking us to also help them pay for a $800 million renovation of Arrowhead Stadium, are still negotiating a community benefits agreement. 

A CBA would hopefully lock in all kinds of worker guarantees, including hiring from specific ZIP codes. 

But who would vote to write a check without all of this already in place? 

Promises are one thing, and contracts another; right now, we’re being asked to accept so much on faith that it seems like bad faith. 

When the Royals say they will not play at The K beyond the current lease term, that sounds to us like vote yes or else. 

Question 1 on the April 2 ballot asks Jackson County voters whether they want to repeal and replace the current 3/8-cent stadiums sales tax for the sports complex with a new 3/8-cent tax that would support the Chiefs and Royals for 40 years. 

Absentee voting has already started, and the team owners seem to think that goodwill for the Super Bowl-winning Chiefs plus our love of even losing Royals teams means we’ll say yes without thinking too much about what we’re agreeing to. 

In this scenario, voters overwhelmed with emotion will say, “Yes, I will spend the next 40 years with you!” 

But this would lock taxpayers into a 40-year obligation without any guarantees that the teams would even stay in Kansas City that long. 

The “Vote yes on Question 1” TV commercial, of course featuring Patrick Mahomes, says we’d be saying yes to keeping the teams here, yes to good-paying jobs and yes to small local businesses. 

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