The Kansas City Royals acknowledged that they will miss their intended late-September target to name the site of their proposed $2 billion new stadium, throwing an early wrench into the facility development’s plans.
The key sticking point is finalizing a lease extension with Missouri’s Jackson County, where the Royals’ current home, Kauffman Stadium, is located. The county is insisting on a finalized lease extension with the Royals before introducing a ballot question that would extend its stadium sales tax levy and help fund a new venue.
The Royals still plan to put a funding measure on local ballots in April 2024, with a goal of opening the new stadium in 2028.
The club is deciding between a 27-acre site in downtown Kansas City, in Jackson County, and a larger 90-acre tract in neighboring Clay County. In either instance, the Royals would seek an Atlanta Braves-type mixed-use development — but part of the decision also rests on the location of the urban site versus the more expansive possibilities of the suburban site.
“Leaders in both counties know a critical piece of the evaluation process will be negotiated lease terms so that the Royals, our future partner, and most importantly the voters can know what to expect,” the Royals said. “We take our responsibilities very seriously to act in the best interests of both the Royals and our region, and we will continue our work to make sure this project is done right.”
The decision — which doesn’t have a new projected timetable — will also have ripple effects on the neighboring Kansas City Chiefs.
Currently one of MLB’s worst-attended, lowest-spending, and poorest-performing clubs, the Royals are eyeing the new stadium development as a key mechanism to improve its fortunes both on and off the field.