Voters get say on Chiefs, Royals’ stadia


Uncertainty for Chiefs and Royals Image: Kansas City Royals and Populous

Taxpayers in Kansas will help decide the future stadium plans of the NFL’s Kansas City Chiefs and MLB’s Kansas City Royals in an April vote.

The two teams recently announced their commitment to remain in Jackson County, Kansas, where their stadiums are located, if voters approve an extension of the sales tax that pays for their upkeep.

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 the county for 50 years.

The Kansas City Star said Jackson County residents will now have a chance to weigh in on the future of the Royals and Chiefs by voting April 2 on whether or not to extend the stadiums sales tax for another 40 years.

The vote had been thrown into doubt when County Executive Frank White Jr called for a veto which would have kept the stadium tax business off the spring ballot. This was over-ruled by councillors.

If approved by voters in April, the $2 billion that White says the tax would raise will go to build a new Royals ballpark, renovate Arrowhead Stadium and provide both teams with income to pay for operations and stadium maintenance.

White tried to block the tax from getting on the ballot when he announced his veto. He said the county needed more time to negotiate agreements with the teams on how those tax dollars would be spent.

The Coliseum Summit US 2024 will be held at Arrowhead Stadium, June 5+6.

As part of the proposed agreement between the teams and Jackson County, the teams have agreed to provide more than $200 million in new economic benefits to Jackson County over 40 years in a new lease agreement, alleviating the County’s obligation to pay stadium insurance premiums as well as the park levy to the teams.

Under the agreement, the Chiefs will conduct an extensive renovation to iconic Arrowhead Stadium. The Royals will build a new downtown stadium and privately fund a $1 billion ballpark district.

According to the Kansas City Star, Legislator Sean Smith said, “The County Executive deserves significant credit for achieving some great concessions from the teams. These concessions will save our taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars over the life of the agreements. I also want to thank my colleagues on the Legislature who stood firm and demanded that the teams document and sign key terms.”

In a letter of intent signed by representatives of the teams and the county sports complex authority, the Royals and Chiefs said they would each make an unspecified “materially substantial private contribution.”

That 22-page letter builds on the foundations of their current leases at the Truman Sports Complex.

Sales tax funds could not be used to pay personnel costs for the teams or their front-office staff, but tax money could go to pay stadium operations staff and employees, as it can now.

The document lays out some concessions that depart from the current leases. As the teams announced previously, they agree to give up the $3.5 million they receive every year from the county’s parks property tax levy. They also agree to cover the cost of general liability, property and casualty insurance on the stadiums, which the county pays for now.

But the Chiefs did not agree to one of White’s demands, which was to promise to keep the team’s headquarters and training facility in Jackson County, should the organization decide to relocate those assets from the sports complex.

The teams also said they are committed to entering into a robust community benefits agreement similar to agreements provided by other NFL and MLB teams for other venues providing for various initiatives that will benefit the citizens of Jackson County.

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