Kansas City Royals potential new stadium site


Kansas City Royals new ballpark update June 2023 Image: Kansas City Royals

As residents await specifics about a potential downtown stadium for the Major League Baseball (MLB) team Kansas City Royals (US), the master developer behind one of the team’s two finalist sites has further readied its properties for what could become a future land sale.

‘KANSAS CITY ROYALS’ stated that the Royals are aiming to announce their proposed location for a potential new stadium in or near downtown Kansas City “by the end of the Summer”, team Chairman and head honcho John Sherman said recently during a midseason presser.

‘FOX4’ stated that the Kansas City’s Planning Department recently issued zoning compliance letters for 12.25 acres throughout the East Village, which is bounded North to South by Eighth and 12th streets and West to East by Cherry and Charlotte streets.

The Kansas City Royals are an American professional baseball team based in Kansas City, Missouri (US). The Royals compete in Major League Baseball (MLB) as a member club of the American League Central division.

The 37,903-capacity Kauffman Stadium, often called ‘The K’, is a baseball stadium located in Kansas City, Missouri, US. It is the home ballpark of the Kansas City Royals of Major League Baseball (MLB). It is part of the Truman Sports Complex together with the adjacent 76,416-capacity Arrowhead Stadium, home of the Kansas City Chiefs of the National Football League (NFL).

The Truman Sports Complex is a sports and entertainment facility located in Kansas City, Missouri (US). It is home to two major sports venues: The Arrowhead Stadium, home of the National Football League’s Kansas City Chiefs, and the Kauffman Stadium, home of Major League Baseball’s Kansas City Royals.

‘FOX4’ further stated that the legal counsel for the VanTrust Real Estate LLC requested the letters for about 6.5 acres it has assembled in the eight-block area, plus 5.7 acres owned by the Kansas City and approved for sale to the local developer this Spring.

The Government bodies issue zoning compliance letters to confirm what land uses are permitted under a property’s existing zoning. The letters often are required as a condition of property acquisitions or refinances, demonstrating to lenders and title companies that sites may be used for particular types of development.

VanTrust described its letter requests for the East Village as a “standard part of (its) due diligence and property ownership processes”, rather than a requirement of any imminent sale to the Royals or other parties.

Kansas City, Missouri (US)-based VanTrust Real Estate, LLC is a full-service real estate development company. The company acquires and develops real estate assets for the Van Tuyl family portfolio and offers a broad range of real estate services including acquisition, disposition, development, development services, and asset management.

Potential New Stadium

There are two locations for the proposed new stadium as confirmed by the team: A site in East Village near the downtown loop, which is in Jackson County and where the Royals are initially and still hope to stay, or a North Kansas City site in Clay County, which has a smaller tax base but is a site the Royals are seriously considering.

Stated Sherman, “We’re going to be ready to get that down to one, we hope, by the end of the Summer. There are still some critical steps that we need to take to our partners to make sure we can do that.”

Sherman would not elaborate on what those steps are, only saying that the team needs to have confidence in the financial structure. The Royals announced their intention to move away from the Truman Sports Complex, which houses the Kauffman Stadium and the Arrowhead Stadium with a lease that runs through the 2030 baseball season, last Fall. Since then, the Royals have narrowed down their proposed sites and polled the public on a move downtown.

A site location is paramount to the next steps forward with the City and the public.

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 the City and State financial commitment.

The Royals are proposing an extension of the 3/8th-cent sales tax in Jackson County, which Sherman estimated would provide $300-350 million each for the Royals and the Chiefs.

Added Sherman, “In addition to that, it will create an ongoing long-term maintenance fund like we have today, which is really important when you think about these projects. The $350 [million] is really that base financing. We’ll have asks of the State and the City, and if it’s not specific, they certainly know the range. And then ownership will take the rest of that.”

Sherman said that a simple sales tax extension in Jackson County, with the Chiefs on the ballot, has been “overwhelmingly positive” in the team’s polling. Those numbers aren’t available to the public.

‘KANSAS CITY ROYALS’ further stated that Sherman proposed next April as a potential date for a ballot measure in Jackson County, should the Royals move forward with the East Village location. In Clay County, Sherman said the conversation hasn’t gotten that specific yet – “[Clay County] is highly motivated and has been very creative about coming to us. But we’ve been partners with the Jackson County, and we’ve been in Kansas City for 52 years. We value that relationship. We want them to give us their best shot, and we’re going to give them our best shot to do it there. But I think we should be clear, there’s certainly an alternative to that idea.”

He continued, “If we end up in the East Village that will be great. And we’ll accomplish all the things that we [hoped]. If it’s in the North Kansas City because the process didn’t move along at the pace some of us wanted, some people are creative up there. They’re entrepreneurial. They’re willing to put capital at risk. There’s an idea up there … that certainly could work for the Kansas City Royals.”

Sherman said a new stadium could be ready for the 2027 or 2028 season. He views a stadium move as important both for the community and for the Royals to keep pace with the other teams in the league – even as the Kansas City drops lower and lower in the standings in 2023.

Said Sherman, “We’re playing the long game here. Team performance is what it is today. We’re going to do what it takes to get it back. But this is a 50-year decision. I’m getting that feedback: ‘Why don’t you spend money on the team?’ Or, ‘Why don’t you fix the team before you ask us for money?’ We’re going to get that done. We also need to make sure that the future is secure in Kansas City.”

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