Downtown stadium a possibility



September 3, 2019 - 10:21 AM

The Kansas City Royals play host to the Baltimore Orioles on Sept. 1, 2018. JOHN SLEEZER/KANSAS CITY STAR/TNS

KANSAS CITY, Mo. ? Talk to people who know John Sherman and three points come up over and over again: He?s a meticulous businessman, he is deeply devoted to Kansas City and, even given his stature in the community, he?s private about his endeavors.

?I get involved in a lot of different charitable organizations and they (Sherman and his wife, Marny) have always been incredibly philanthropic,? said Perry Brandt, a top Kansas City business lawyer who was once neighbors with Sherman and whose children went to school together. ?They?re always very quiet about it. Sometimes people who are philanthropic wear it on their sleeve and they?re always very quiet about it.?

And so it was both surprising and not at the same time when word emerged publicly last week that a group led by Sherman was in talks to buy the Kansas City Royals.

The deal isn?t done ? it can?t be until Major League Baseball owners meet later this year to sign off on a change in ownership ? but Sherman and current Royals owner David Glass have agreed to the framework of a deal.

But speculation is already afoot about what kind of owner Sherman might be. Another thing to know about Sherman: He cares about downtown Kansas City.

Could a new owner usher in the possibility of the Royals pursuing a downtown stadium? People close to Sherman say he hasn?t discussed the idea specifically, but clues exist to suggest he might be warm to the idea.

Sherman was part of an investor group that was looking at building a downtown stadium in St. Louis to support an expansion Major League Soccer team, according to a 2016 article in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. The idea cooled when then-Gov. Eric Greitens said he would oppose public funding for the project.

Sherman also sits on and was a chairman of the board of the Civic Council of Greater Kansas City, a consortium of business people who look to guide the city?s future. The Civic Council is helping fund a new study by the Downtown Council of Kansas City?s urban core, an update to earlier studies referred to as the Sasaki Plan, which in 2001 and again in 2005 served as something of a blueprint for the rejuvenation of the city?s core in the years that would follow.

While this latest study is expected to provide a roadmap for infrastructure, transportation, affordable housing and development in downtown for the next decade, the possibility of baseball in the urban core is part of the planning.

Several sites have been considered for a downtown baseball stadium.

Multiple sources tell The Star that two sites could have an edge currently should the Royals look downtown.

One is at and around where the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority currently occupies 24 acres for its headquarters and bus station at 18th Street and Forest Avenue, just east of U.S. Highway 71.

?I?ve heard those rumors and I would be the first one to jump up and down and say absolutely,? said Robbie Makinen, chief executive of the KCATA.

The KCATA site?s allure is that a baseball stadium would provide a linkage between the Crossroads Arts District and the 18th & Vine entertainment district, an area where a current array of warehouse and industrial buildings serves as an unappealing corridor between the two attractions.

The KCATA site is complicated somewhat by the proposed development of what?s called a Keystone Innovation District at 18th Street and Troost Avenue that would occupy a portion of KCATA-controlled property, but the project has not yet broken ground.