Boom time for Kansas City stadia plans


Kansas City status quo story Image: KC Current, KC Royals and Populous, Kansas City Chiefs, & University of Kansas

Kansas City, the home of sports architecture, is going into overdrive with a raft of new stadium projects and renovations on the horizon.

Major League Baseball’s (MLB) Kansas City Royals are looking to move away from their Kauffman Stadium home to a new venue nearby, while the NFL’s Kansas City Chiefs are planning major upgrades to their Arrowhead Stadium.

Added to this, National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) club Kansas City Current has just unveiled plans for the next phase of its transformational development on the Missouri Riverfront in downtown Kansas City.

KC Current said that building on the opening of CPKC Stadium, the first purpose-built women’s professional sports stadium in the world, the Current will develop a mixed-use district anchored by the stadium, Berkley Riverfront Park, and the Missouri Riverfront.

Meanwhile, the University of Kansas and Kansas Athletics recently announced the latest plans for the transformational Gateway District, which will feature a reimagined David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium in Lawrence, Kansas (US), a new conference center and multiuse facilities that will enable year-round use and drive economic development in Lawrence.

These developments will come under the spotlight at the 2024 Coliseum Summit US which will be held at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City, from June 5th-6th.

An ice-breaker event including stadium tour will be held at the CPKC Stadium in Kansas City (June 4th). There will also be behind-the-scenes tours of Arrowhead Stadium and Children’s Mercy Park, the home of Major League Soccer’s Sporting Kansas City.

Taxing times

The Arrowhead and Kauffman stadiums, which opened in the early 1970s and are located at the Truman Sports Complex, have been tied to each other through lease agreements with Jackson County for 50 years. The agreements run out in 2030.

Voters in Jackson County, Missouri, rejected a sales tax measure earlier this month that would have helped fund the major renovations to Arrowhead as well as build a new ballpark for the Royals in downtown Kansas City.

The plan to renovate Arrowhead and build a new stadium for the Royals was rejected by almost 60% of voters. It would have replaced a three-eighth-cent sales tax with a similar tax for the next 40 years. Both franchises are now assessing their options for the future.

The teams could now tweak their plans and ask voters again, or they could build or renovate the stadiums without public funds. Another option would be to avoid a referendum by seeking approval for public subsidies directly from a legislative body such as a city council, county commission or state legislature.

Arrowhead Stadium renovations

Prior to the tax setback, the Chiefs unveiled initial concepts for an $800 million reimagination and renovation of Arrowhead Stadium to move the iconic stadium into the future.

The club consulted with a team of experts from Populous on best-in-class features and concepts that would elevate an already revered venue and unrivaled fan experience to new heights.

The team presented renderings and video of proposed repairs, maintenance, renovations and enhancements that would maintain Arrowhead Stadium as the home of the four-time Super Bowl champion Chiefs for decades to come.

The revamp would also help Arrowhead double down on its status as an iconic cultural landmark for Kansas City and the entire Midwest region, as well as a destination for sports and entertainment fans from around the world.

Chiefs Chairman and CEO Clark Hunt said, “For more than five decades, Arrowhead Stadium has been the home of the Chiefs, and a home for so many of our fans. This is where generations of Chiefs fans fell in love with the game. History has been written here, legends have been born here, and lifelong memories have been made within these walls. The stadium has become part of the fabric of our community. Today we are excited to share our plans to extend the life of Arrowhead for future generations of Chiefs fans.”

Renovation concepts include:

  • New turf-covered Activation Zone with tailgate areas and covered entertainment space built over the current site of Kauffman Stadium for gameday activations and year-round community opportunities.
  • A new Upper Concourse Connection Bridge will create 360-degree wrap-around connectivity for fans on the upper concourse as well as additional space for new food and beverage points of sale.
  • Upper Concourse Canopy will provide weather protection for all fans on the upper-level concourse, in addition to infrared heaters and overhead fans increasing year-round comfort.
  • New VIP Stadium Entry Points will lead to all-new spaces inside the stadium and will also decrease fan traffic and congestion at existing general admission gates.
  • New Sideline Clubs will be constructed after excavating under the lower-level seating bowl to create new premium experiences for gamedays and special events.
  • New Video Boards will be increased in size while keeping their iconic shape to complement the stadium’s unique curved endzones while new LED Ribbon Boards will also be installed.
  • Upgraded TV, Wi-Fi, DAS (distributed antenna system) and Audio System Technology will be introduced throughout the stadium, enhancing fan connectivity as well as the clarity and quality of the game presentation in-stadium.
  • New End Zone Clubs and Suites will introduce new viewing and hospitality experiences that are now common in newer NFL venues.
  • New Concession Stands, Retail Spaces and Restrooms will result in improved access and reduced wait times around the building.


Kansas City Royals

Earlier this year, the Royals revealed the location of where they want to build their long-awaited new home.

The Royals presented their plans to build a new ballpark and surrounding entertainment district in the Crossroads District in downtown Kansas City.

The proposed new ballpark location is a 17.3-acre site bounded by Grand Boulevard to the west, Locust Street to the east, Truman Road to the north and 17th Street to the south.

It would incorporate the former Kansas City Star printing press building at 1601 McGee St. along downtown’s south loop, just a few blocks away from the Power & Light District.

The 34,000-capacity ballpark would be facing northeast, with home plate off Grand Boulevard. Off Locust Street will be corporate offices, a new hotel and residential and entertainment venues.

A key factor in the Royals’ location decision was the South Loop Park Project, which would build a park over four blocks of Interstate 670 as it passes through downtown.

The city is in the process of raising money for the $217 million project, and the current plan to cap the four blocks west of Grand Boulevard would be extended three blocks further to the east. How that extension is paid for is still to be determined.

The Royals landed on this site because it connects the team to the neighborhood, the ease of access and the abundance of parking available already.

According to Earl Santee, CEO and founder of the ballpark architectural design firm Populous, the new stadium would be within a 10-minute walk of 40,000 parking spaces, compared to the 26,000 spaces at the Truman Sports Complex now.

It was also the only site the Royals looked at that didn’t require major highway improvements.

Santee said, “This will be the epicenter of the sports and entertainment district for Kansas City. Along with T-Mobile [Center] right across 670, the relationship to all the cultural aspects of Kansas City is within a 10-minute walk. It’s very easy for you to do multiple things in a given day, between the Kauffman Arts Center, T-Mobile, Municipal Auditorium, Power & Light District, all the other functional events and entertainment and sports activities that happen.

“I would say this is the most unique site, one of the most dense sports and entertainment sites we have in America today.”

KC Current mixed-use district

KC Current, meanwhile, is teaming up with Palmer Square Capital Management, Marquee Development, and the Port Authority of Kansas City for a ground-breaking development around its CPKC Stadium.

The 11,500-capacity CPKC Stadium is a soccer-specific stadium located in Kansas City and opened for the Current’s first home match on March 16th, 2024.

The club said that to continue KC Current’s unprecedented commitment to women’s sports and the Kansas City region, this next phase of development will add more than $200 million in private funding, with all phases of the development exceeding $800 million in total investment. The project will break ground at the end of 2024, targeting a 2026 completion date.

The Current has engaged Perkins Eastman as the Architect for the scheme. The Perkins Eastman team brings significant expertise from their work on world-class waterfront projects and transit-integrated mixed-use districts, including The Wharf in Washington, D.C., Target Field Station in Minneapolis, MN, Canalside in Buffalo, NY, and Battery Park City in New York.

The privately-funded development will extend the fabric of Kansas City directly to the water’s edge, providing a one-of-a-kind, pedestrian-focused experience for Berkley Riverfront residents, KC Current fans, and visitors alike.

Along with adding hundreds of multi-family residential units to the neighborhood, the project will create new public gathering and recreational spaces intended for all Kansas Citians – including a new town square and a riverfront promenade – continuing the work by Port KC to bring life and vibrancy to the Missouri Riverfront.

University of Kansas

There are also stadium developments on the boards in Kansas at College level too.

The University of Kansas and Kansas Athletics recently announced the latest plans for the transformational Gateway District, which will feature a reimagined David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium in Lawrence, Kansas (US), a new conference center and multiuse facilities that will enable year-round use and drive economic development in Lawrence.

The plans for the district also include a combination of new retail, dining and other amenities that will drive student recruitment and enhance the campus experience for the Kansas University students and employees.

The project will be completed in a multiphase approach. The first phase of the project will include additional renovations to, and expansion of, the Anderson Family Football Complex, the training hub for Kansas Football. Additionally, the first phase will include the construction of new Southwest, West and North sides of the David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium, as well as a new conference center on the North end.

Construction on the first phase began at the conclusion of the 2023 football season, and will be completed by the beginning of the 2025 season.

Kansas Football will continue to play at the David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium during construction and will have reduced capacity for the 2024 season. Fans are encouraged to purchase season tickets for the 2023 season to have the opportunity to be in the stadium for the 2024 season.

The project will be primarily funded by private funds from donors and no tuition dollars or State general funds will be used..

Future phases of the Gateway District and David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium will focus on the South and East portions of the stadium, as well as development of multiuse facilities to be used throughout the year to generate revenue for academic programing and student success. Although in the early stages of planning, the multiuse facilities will include a mix of amenities that further boost economic development in the area and advance the university’s academic mission, such as arts and entertaining, dining, retail, office spaces, and lodging.

The local design firms HNTB and Multistudio have taken the design lead on the Gateway District and David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium.

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