Royals' new ballpark site to be announced 'by the end of the summer'

June 29th, 2023

KANSAS CITY -- The Royals are aiming to announce their proposed location for a potential new stadium in or near downtown Kansas City “by the end of the summer,” team chairman and CEO John Sherman said Thursday during a midseason press conference.

There are two locations for the proposed new stadium, as first reported by the Kansas City Star and later confirmed by the team: A site in East Village near the downtown loop, which is in Jackson County and where the Royals are initially and still hope to stay, or a North Kansas City site in Clay County, which has a smaller tax base but is a site the Royals are seriously considering.

“We’re going to be ready to get that down to one, we hope, by the end of the summer,” Sherman said in the hour-long press conference in the team’s Hall of Fame at Kauffman Stadium on Thursday. “There are still some critical steps that we need to take to our partners to make sure we can do that.”

Sherman would not elaborate on what those steps are, only saying that the team needs to have confidence in the financial structure. The Royals announced their intention to move away from the Truman Sports Complex, which houses The K and Arrowhead Stadium with a lease that runs through the 2030 baseball season, last fall. Since then, the Royals have narrowed down their proposed sites and polled the public on a move downtown.

A site location is paramount to the next steps forward with the city and public.

The Royals’ ownership group has promised more than $1 billion in private investment for the stadium project, which would include an entertainment district around the proposed new ballpark. But the team is estimating the project will take more than $2 billion, so it is asking that the remainder of the financing be taken care of by public tax dollars and city and state financial commitment.

Proposed renderings of the potential new ballpark that were released in 2022

The Royals are proposing an extension of the 3/8th-cent sales tax in Jackson County, which Sherman estimated would provide $300-350 million each for the Royals and Chiefs.

“In addition to that, it will create an ongoing long-term maintenance fund like we have today, which is really important when you think about these projects,” Sherman said. “The $350 [million] is really that base financing. We’ll have asks of the state and the city, and if it’s not specific, they certainly know the range. And then ownership will take the rest of that.”

Sherman said that a simple sales tax extension in Jackson County, with the Chiefs on the ballot, has been “overwhelmingly positive” in the team’s polling. Those numbers aren’t available to the public.

Proposed renderings of the potential new ballpark that were released in 2022

Sherman proposed next April as a potential date for a ballot measure in Jackson County, should the Royals move forward with the East Village location. In Clay County, Sherman said the conversation hasn’t gotten that specific yet.

“[Clay County] is highly motivated and has been very creative about coming to us,” Sherman said. “But we’ve been partners with Jackson County, and we’ve been in Kansas City for 52 years. We value that relationship. We want them to give us their best shot, and we’re going to give them our best shot to do it there. But I think we should be clear, there’s certainly an alternative to that idea.”

He later continued: “If we end up in East Village, that will be great. And we’ll accomplish all the things that we [hoped]. If it’s in North Kansas City because the process didn’t move along at the pace some of us wanted, some people are creative up there. They’re entrepreneurial. They’re willing to put capital at risk. There’s an idea up there … that certainly could work for the Kansas City Royals.”

Sherman said a new stadium could be ready for the 2027 or ‘28 season. He views a stadium move as important both for the community and for the Royals to keep pace with other teams in the league -- even as Kansas City drops lower and lower in the standings in 2023, entering Thursday as the second-worst team in baseball at 22-58.

“We’re playing the long game here,” Sherman said. “Team performance is what it is today. We’re going to do what it takes to get it back. But this is a 50-year decision. I’m getting that feedback: 'Why don’t you spend money on the team?' Or, 'Why don’t you fix the team before you ask us for money?' We’re going to get that done. We also need to make sure that the future is secure in Kansas City.”