Sherman discusses downtown ballpark, World Cup and more

September 22nd, 2022

KANSAS CITY -- The Royals firmly set their sights on their future on Wednesday when Royals chairman and CEO John Sherman fired president of baseball operations Dayton Moore and gave executive vice president/general manager J.J. Picollo full control over the team’s baseball operations.

Also looming in the future: A new downtown ballpark.

Sherman, who purchased the Royals at the end of 2019, announced his intent to explore options for a downtown ballpark last year. This week, he said those intentions have not changed.

“We continue to work on a process around a new stadium,” Sherman said. “Like the Chiefs, we’ve had an engineering study done out here to tell us what it would be like renovate here and modernize the stadium versus moving. But we’re working hard on that. And that’s part of a big-picture process.”

In talking about a new stadium, Sherman mentioned how it would be an ideal addition to Kansas City’s busy schedule over the next couple of years, including the opening of the new terminal at the Kansas City International Airport, the construction of a new stadium for the Kansas City Current women’s pro soccer team along the Riverfront, and the NFL Draft and the FIFA World Cup coming to Kansas City in the near future.

The Royals’ current lease at the Truman Sports Complex, which is about 20 minutes outside of downtown, doesn’t expire until 2031. But Sherman’s mention of the big events surrounding Kansas City suggests he wants the Royals to be part of all those festivities in the coming years -- and for it to take place downtown.

Things would have to move rather quickly for that to happen, but Sherman suggested that’s his intention.

“If you can dream a little bit -- and I’m looking at some people who are working on this, you got to do more than dream; there’s a lot of legwork to be done here to finance this and build support for it,” Sherman said. “But if we do something downtown or near downtown and the Chiefs do something special out here, these are the type of catalytic events that can really transform a region. I think about it from that perspective.”

The new terminal at MCI is scheduled to open in spring 2023, and the NFL Draft is coming to Kansas City in April of next year. The Current plan to open their stadium for the 2024 National Women’s Soccer League season, and World Cup games will be played in Kansas City during the summer of 2026.

“When I think about the stadium, it’s really about much more than a stadium,” Sherman said. “We’re talking about a ballpark district and all that comes with it, all that comes around it. Neighborhoods and jobs and more public transportation options. I think about it really in a bigger context for Kansas City.

“… We can play a big part. These franchises are incredibly important in the community. I think in a city like this, even more so.”

Sherman specifically mentioned the World Cup as something Kansas City can build around, bringing international attention to the smallest of 11 American metro areas to host World Cup games. Kansas City beat out Phoenix, Denver, Orlando, Cincinnati and Nashville, among other cities, for the opportunity.

“You talk about the World Cup, I think all the other winners are in the top 14 metropolitan areas in the United States,” Sherman said. “We’re 31. If you think about the World Cup and what we can do around it to enhance it, Kansas City stands to gain more than anybody from this World Cup and certainly more than just late June and July of 2026.”