Royals plan to reveal proposed downtown ballpark site soon

Deadline to announce intended location is Feb. 29 ahead of April 2 vote on stadium sales tax

February 3rd, 2024

KANSAS CITY -- Details of where the Royals envision their new downtown ballpark and surrounding entertainment district are on the cusp of being made public, Royals chairman/CEO John Sherman said Saturday.

The Royals’ deadline to reveal a site location is Feb. 29, according to the joint letter of intent the Royals and the Chiefs signed on Jan. 22, helping to get the extension of the stadium sales tax on the April 2 ballot.

But Sherman said the team is hoping to announce the location “meaningfully ahead” of that deadline.

“We plan on doing it meaningfully in front of that Feb. 29 date,” Sherman said at Royals Rally, the organization’s one-day fanfest at Kauffman Stadium, on Saturday. “I think some people brought up early voting. I think veterans can start voting on Feb. 16. So our objective is to get it meaningfully ahead of that.”

Military and overseas ballots are sent 46 days prior to an election, according to the Jackson County Election Board website. The Royals want to make sure the entire voting base has as much information about the team’s plans to move downtown to help inform voters before deciding whether to extend the 3/8-cent stadium sales tax for another 40 years.

Not only does that information include a stadium site, but also the completion of a community benefits agreement and lease agreement with the county. The Jackson County Legislature put the stadium sales tax on the spring ballot without those binding agreements. That was the main sticking point for County Executive Frank White, whose ordinance veto was overridden by the nine-member legislature. But the letter of intent outlined broad terms and concessions, and officials are making progress on the actual agreements.

The Royals and the Chiefs also plan to run a campaign to help the ballot measure pass.

“That campaign will be a very positive ‘vote yes’ campaign [between] both teams -- same tax, better deal,” Sherman said. “Meaningful economic concessions and more benefits. Not just economic benefits that we’re giving back in the deal relative to the historical lease but also around the downtown ballpark, more than a billion dollars of private capital being invested as well. So it’s just another benefit when you think about comparing what’s been done historically. Same tax, better deals to the taxpayers and more benefits for the community.

“These teams are important to the community. We want to make sure they both thrive here for the next 50 years. This is the same tax, better deal. More benefits, both for the community and county, in terms of the concessions.”

The Royals have conducted polling on the prospects of the tax extension passing since they began this project, and the results are positive, according to Sherman.

“We feel pretty good about us putting on a good campaign and getting a yes vote on April 2,” Sherman said.

There are two known locations the Royals have been looking at for a new ballpark: East Village and East Crossroads, at the site of the former Kansas City Star printing press. The East Village location was part of stadium renderings the Royals revealed back in August.

The Royals want their new ballpark to be ready by Opening Day 2028. The Chiefs plan on renovating Arrowhead Stadium out at the Truman Sports Complex, where both teams are located currently.

“The time is now, for a whole variety of reasons, not just that the city has great momentum,” Sherman said. “We think these are going to be special projects, both out here for what the Chiefs do and certainly downtown and creating a district.”