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Tuesday, April 16, 2024
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Kansas City Stadium Plans in Doubt After Voters Reject Tax Measure

  • A proposed tax measure was defeated decisively by Jackson County, Mo., voters.
  • The D.C. council unanimously approved funding to renovate Capital One Arena.
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Voters in Jackson County, Mo., delivered a stinging rebuke Tuesday of a proposed sales tax measure to fund a new ballpark for the Royals and improvements to the Chiefs’ Arrowhead Stadium, leaving the long-term future of both teams in the jurisdiction very much in question.

In an issue that had already sharply divided the Kansas City area, voters turned down by a whopping 58%-42% margin a proposal that would have created a new ⅜-cent sales tax mechanism over 40 years to generate as much as $2 billion. That money, in turn, was aimed at supporting the Royals on recently announced stadium plans for a site near downtown and the helping the Chiefs conduct a large-scale upgrade to what is now the NFL’s third-oldest stadium behind Chicago’s Soldier Field and Green Bay’s Lambeau Field. 

Instead, those facility plans are now very much in doubt. 

Prior to the decisive vote, the Chiefs and Royals openly said that they would “explore all options for where we will play come 2031,” when the teams’ current stadium leases expire, should a “No” vote prevail. Chiefs president Mark Donovan then doubled down on that notion.

The teams’ next steps have not been disclosed. But initial fallback options could include pursuing their stadium plans in nearby jurisdictions such as Clay County, Mo.—where the Royals previously considered building—or Johnson County, Kan. Still, such a shift elsewhere in the Kansas City metro area will be jarring as both the Chiefs and Royals have been at the Truman Sports Complex for more than a half-century. If the Royals still pursue their new ballpark at the city’s Crossroads neighborhood, it almost certainly will not be in line with the original targeted opening in 2028.

“We are deeply disappointed,” Royals owner John Sherman said following the vote. “We will take some time to reflect on and process the outcome and find a path forward that works for the Royals and our fans.” Donovan added that the Chiefs will “look to do what is in the best interest of our fans and our organization as we move forward.”

The Kansas City stadiums issue served as a new flash point in a long-running debate on the wisdom of supplying taxpayer funds to wealthy owners of privately held teams. Chiefs stars Patrick Mahomes and Travis Kelce were among those appearing in ads in favor of the new tax measure, while Jackson County executive Frank White, also a former Royals star, opposed it. 

D.C. Approval

The Washington, D.C., council unanimously approved, as expected, $515 million in funding over the next three years to improve Capital One Arena, solidifying a remarkable turnabout for the Wizards and Capitals in which parent organization Monumental Sports & Entertainment walked away from a proposed $2 billion development deal in Virginia to stay at its current site.

Earlier this week, MSE chair Ted Leonsis said on the Front Office Sports Today podcast that D.C. mayor Muriel Bowser “overcame, in an integrated way, all of our objections, and so it just felt natural to get there” on a deal. A final term sheet will now be developed over the next 45 days. 

“Now, we will roll up our sleeves to reimagine a sports and entertainment experience that this region will call home for the next generation,” MSE said. 

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