July 20, 2024

The Lake Tribune

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Missouri Officials Respond to Kansas’ Plans for Chiefs and Royals Stadiums

3 min read

Kauffman Stadium and Arrowhead Stadium, home to the Kansas City Royals and Kansas City Chiefs. (IStock Photo)

KANSAS CITY, MO (The Lake Tribune) —Kansas lawmakers’ efforts to build new stadiums for the Chiefs and Royals have sparked concerns about reigniting a border war with Missouri.

“I certainly think that Kansas seems to want to get into some sort of competitive bidding war. I don’t really have any interest in that. I don’t think it’s in the taxpayer’s best interest,” said Jackson County Legislator Sean Smith.

Kansas City, Missouri Mayor Quinton Lucas emphasized the importance of maintaining good relations with Kansas but warned against a new border war.

“I think good conversations and relations with our friends, and I say friends in Kansas are important. I do think a new border war is counterproductive,” Lucas said.

Following Jackson County voters’ rejection of a sales tax extension in April to fund a new Royals ballpark downtown and renovations for Arrowhead Stadium, the door opened to other possibilities. Kansas lawmakers plan to introduce a measure to finance new stadiums for both teams at next week’s special session of the legislature in Topeka. The plan involves using sales tax or STAR bonds.

“It probably costs north of $2 billion to build a domed stadium, wherever it might be in this region, what I hear from a lot of those reports on STAR bonds, $700 million to $1 billion. So, there seems to be a $1 billion gap question,” Lucas said.

Smith echoed concerns about the financial feasibility of the plan.

“I don’t think it’s in the taxpayer’s best interest. If I was a Kansas voter, I would be telling my legislature and my governor that they don’t believe, and I think it’s just factually impossible. You can’t get something for nothing,” Smith said.

While the Chiefs and Royals have not commented, both teams have hired Kansas lobbyists ahead of next week’s special session. The Chiefs enlisted former Kansas House Speaker Ron Ryckman, who runs a public group called “Scoop and Score.”

Lucas mentioned ongoing discussions with both teams on the Missouri side of the state line, stressing the need for confidential negotiations.

“We like to keep those confidential. We’re not legislating or negotiating by press release,” Lucas said.

Smith added the need for collective dialogue involving the state, the city of Kansas City, and Jackson County to form a plan.

“We’re not really at the negotiating table because we don’t have any cards. But there does need to be dialogue with the teams. I think that dialogue needs to include both the state and the city of Kansas City and Jackson County. We should be coming together collectively to form a plan,” Smith said.

Kansas Governor Laura Kelly’s administration declined to comment on pending proposals like the STAR bond plan for the teams. Missouri Governor Mike Parson’s spokesman expressed optimism about keeping the teams in Missouri.

“The Chiefs and Royals have a long, rich history in Kansas City, and we remain optimistic that their story will continue in Missouri for generations to come. Governor Parson will do what he can to keep the teams in Missouri. The Chiefs and Royals are Missouri’s teams, and Governor Parson will continue conversations with the teams’ leadership to ensure that remains,” the statement said.

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