If the Royals believe in their downtown stadium, why not provide full details about it?

Backers of a downtown stadium for the Kansas City Royals have come up short in terms of providing full details of what their proposal entails. That's asking a lot for voters to approve hundreds of millions of tax dollars to support the measure.

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Sports

April 1, 2024 - 2:31 PM

Kansas City Royals chairman and CEO John Sherman speaks at a press conference at Kauffman Stadium on Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2024, where the team announced their intentions to build a new ballpark in downtown Kansas City. The team hopes to have a complete ballpark ready for opening day in 2028. Earl Santee of Populous Senior Principal, left, Royals president Brooks Sherman, middle and Royals vice president Sarah Tourville also took part. Photo by Travis Heying/The Wichita Eagle/TNS

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Royals’ top brass gathered in the Kauffman Stadium Hall of Fame building last August, flanked in a room by renderings of two contrasting stadium projects — two finalists, they said, that would be narrowed to one in a month.

It was half a year later before they publicized their decision — a different site altogether, the proverbial Door No. 3 revealing the East Crossroads.

Six more weeks later, on Wednesday, the Royals announced that East Crossroads location will include a modification significant enough that it prompts at least a few more questions about a process in need of at least a few more answers.

Their proposed stadium, they said six days shy of an election, would now sit inside Oak Street on the east, rather than cover the street.

When will we receive an updated look at how the stadium will squeeze between Oak and Grand? Don’t know. How might this affect the proposed ballpark district along the stadium’s perimeter? Will those businesses across Oak Street now be saved from demolition? To be determined.

That’s to be determined after Jackson County citizens head to the polls Tuesday to cast their vote on a 3/8th-cent sales tax reserved for the Chiefs’ and Royals’ stadium proposals.

Seriously.

Look, I don’t want to focus strictly on one street, or only on three renderings, while they still owe us a fourth, because this stadium proposal impacts a heck of a lot more (and lacks the information on a heck of a lot more) than one road running north and south through downtown Kansas City. It’s really not even the most pressing question we still have.

But it’s just perfectly symbolic, an eleventh-hour reminder of the initial 10 hours of this Royals project:

A moving target.

Literally, once more.

The Royals’ and Chiefs’ campaigns for the 40-year sales tax have embraced a fear-inducing, take-it-or-leave-it — actually, a take-it-or-we-will-leave — message.

Which begs a simple question: Take what exactly?

The Chiefs have stayed consistent with their plans to renovate Arrowhead Stadium — we’ve long known that much — but the Royals’ pursuit of a radical change in venue has been, well, radically changing.

Plans can undergo alterations. I understand that. Each alteration to the Royals’ project, though, is followed not by long-awaited specifics, but instead by ambiguity.

And there was already plenty of that.

The implied threat of leaving the county that has taken over this conversation— which, to be clear, I’m not dismissing as unrealistic; I think at least one team could follow through on it — is built on a false presumption that they have played their hand so perfectly that voters cannot refuse it.

To be clear: We’re still waiting to see the Royals’ full hand.

The downtown baseball park proposal lacks the fine print of several items — requiring that voters trust they will be content with what they only later learn. It is absent a clear financial picture or the full impact the Crossroads location will have on the businesses already occupying that district, among other items.

Our wait to learn the exact city and state contributions toward the stadiums will extend past voting day, and the Royals project in particular will require some help downtown, you’d certainly think. What kind of help? How much? From whom? A public shoulder shrug.

At the Truman Sports Complex, the Chiefs have said the Hunt family will contribute $300 million toward an $800 million price tag for Arrowhead’s renovations. The state and city will handle the majority of the remainder, they said, with the state contribution exceeding that of the city’s.

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