KC mayor endorses Royals' ballpark plans

March 31st, 2024
Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas threw his support behind the Royals' effort to build a new stadium downtown.Jason Hanna/Royals

KANSAS CITY -- Three days before Jackson County voters head to the polls to vote on an extension of the 3/8-cent sales tax that would help fund a new Royals downtown ballpark and renovations to the Kansas City Chiefs’ Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas endorsed the projects and the “Vote Yes on Question 1” campaign.

Lucas made the announcement during a press conference at Kauffman Stadium on Saturday. Standing by his side was Royals CEO/chairman John Sherman and Chiefs president Mark Donovan -- and behind the three were Service Employees International Union Local 1 members, who endorsed the campaign earlier this week.

Election Day is Tuesday.

“I want to thank the mayor for being here today to support the 'Vote Yes on Question 1' to keep the Royals and the Chiefs in Kansas City,” Sherman said. “This is a transformational moment for the city and community. It’s also a generational decision, from my perspective. This is about maintaining our status as a Major League city.”

Mayor Quinton Lucas called the ballpark project a “game-changer.”Jason Hanna/Royals

Lucas called the two projects -- building a new Royals ballpark in the East Crossroads district of downtown Kansas City and renovations to Arrowhead Stadium at the Truman Sports Complex -- a “game-changer” for Kansas City. He was able to officially endorse the projects after several conversations with the Royals and Chiefs, especially about how the Royals’ ballpark and surrounding district would affect the neighborhood and businesses that are currently in the project’s footprint.

The Royals announced their intentions on Wednesday to alter the ballpark’s design to keep Oak Street open as a direct result of conversations with Lucas. Original renderings had the ballpark and district on a six-block footprint from Grand Boulevard to Locust Street and Truman Road to 17th Street -- with part of the stadium, the team’s headquarters, a corporate office, a hotel and residential venues along the Oak and Locust Streets corridor. The team hasn’t said how keeping Oak Street open would change the design.

“What has really helped move me here, and I think a lot of people, is the fact that John and his team have listened,” Lucas said on Saturday. “We had a very good conversation about Oak Street recently. And out of that, they said, ‘We want to make sure that we are a part of the downtown conversation. We want to make sure we’re listening to people -- ranging from business owners to cyclist advocates to pedestrians and so many others -- in neighborhoods that will be impacted.’ … For me, what really solidified it was that there was that conversation, there was that listening.”

Lucas emphasized that keeping the Royals and Chiefs in Jackson County is imperative to the growth of Kansas City, along with the economic benefits and job creation that the venues bring.

The Royals are looking to build a new ballpark downtown to replace Kauffman Stadium, the club's home since 1973.AP/Charlie Riedel

“This is not a time where we’re seeing growth in commercial office,” Lucas said. “This is not a time where we’re seeing growth in some other areas of cities. Big events and great venues that can host them matter for Kansas City. They matter for Kansas City’s bottom line. This is how we have the funding to address all the issues that we have each and every day. This city needs to continue to be able to attract that -- not just now, but well into the future.”

He also said that the conversations and negotiations with the teams will continue after the vote, including the financial commitment of the city and the infrastructure needs the Royals’ project will demand.

“Phase One is Tuesday and a vote yes,” Lucas said. “Phase Two, we have a chance to talk about a lot of things. A lot of things that we probably agree on, and some things where we think maybe there’s some more work to be done. John and I have had outstanding conversations about how we can make sure we protect and preserve local businesses and small businesses throughout downtown and throughout our entire city. We’re going to have more conversations about how we can represent even more workers.

“... We’re going to have a city that is looking out for affordable housing, investing in small businesses, fixing our roads, doing basic services. But we can also have a city that hosts Super Bowl champions, World Series champions [and] has great concerts and venues. I like going to mayors’ conferences and everybody from New York City to small towns are saying, ‘Kansas City, y’all got it going on.’ On Tuesday, we get to solidify that even further. And we get to solidify that for another generation.”