Commissioner Manfred touts two potential sites for new KC ballpark

August 16th, 2023

KANSAS CITY – Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred toured the two locations the Royals are considering for a new downtown ballpark and surrounding district on Wednesday afternoon.

Manfred was in town for a visit with the Royals’ organization and ownership group and held a presentation alongside chairman and CEO John Sherman at the Kansas City Urban Youth Academy.

“The fact that in Kansas City, there are two sites of unbelievably high quality that are available for the building of a ballpark is a tremendous opportunity for this community,” Manfred said. “Forget for the Royals – for the community. Both of these sites are outstanding sites for the ballpark. Both of them present the opportunity for entertainment district development around the ballpark.”

Manfred is referring to the two sites the Royals are deciding between: A site in East Village near the downtown loop, which is in Jackson County, or a North Kansas City site in Clay County.

The Royals hope to have a site location chosen by late September.

In an hour-long presentation that was hosted by Negro Leagues Baseball Museum president Bob Kendrick, Manfred spent 45 minutes talking about the state of baseball before touching on and supporting the Royals’ new ballpark plans. He said new ballparks and surrounding facilities provide organizations with “revenue generation opportunities that simply don’t exist in older footprints.”

“Great baseball park here,” Manfred said about Kauffman Stadium. “Having said that, it’s an older ballpark that doesn’t have the kind of premier revenue-generating opportunities that you get in a new facility. For a market of this size, those opportunities are crucial in today’s game in order to put the ballclub in a position to be competitive over the long haul. If you’re in a really big media market and you get big media dollars, it’s less crucial. In markets like this, you need that live-game revenue opportunity to be competitive.”

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.

The Royals are proposing an extension of the 3/8th-cent sales tax in Jackson County, which Sherman has estimated would provide $300-350 million each for the Royals and Chiefs, who currently share the Truman Sports Complex in Jackson County where Kauffman Stadium and GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium reside.

Sherman was asked why the owner wants a public-private partnership instead of having the ownership group pay for the entire new ballpark district.

“It’s a fair question,” Sherman said. “I would probably start to answer that with talking about the partnership, the 52-year partnership that we’ve had in this community, that we have today with Jackson County, the city of Kansas City, Mo., and the state of Missouri. I feel pretty strongly about the fact that we want partners in this business. It’s also the ballpark. We need a modern ballpark, and I don’t think it’s in the right place anymore for where we are today. That stadium has served us well. …

“We acquired this team knowing we had an old building, knowing it would be 60 years old, and that this would be the most important decision we make while we have the privilege of stewarding this franchise. We want to partner on that. Whether we’re looking for a 25-, 30-, 40-year lease, at the end of that, it’s going to be somebody else’s problem, not mine. I want the Royals to be tied to this community in a long-term way, like it has been to this point. We happened to inherit while we’re at this critical juncture, and we’re taking that very, very seriously.”