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Sunday, April 21, 2024
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Royals Trust Owner’s ‘Gut,’ Commit to Downtown K.C. Site for New Stadium

  • MLB club targets late-emerging location near downtown for ballpark development.
  • Franchise looks to ‘sustain’ small-market Kansas City as a major league city.
Kansas City Royals

At last, the Royals have selected a site for their long-discussed, $2 billion ballpark and mixed-use development project, and with it comes a potentially transformative chance to escape the club’s current on- and off-field doldrums. 

More than four months after the stadium site selection was originally due, the MLB club has selected a 4.7-acre site near downtown Kansas City, adjacent to the T-Mobile Center and the site of the former Kansas City Star printing press pavilion. The location, known as the Crossroads, was not originally a candidate for the Royals’ project, but in November the team began to focus seriously on the spot.

The site is also within walking distance of the city’s Power and Light District, and as such, will not require significant upfront development. But the Royals still intend to develop a conference center and hotel, as well as residential and other entertainment elements to supplement the ballpark. The team is targeting a 2028 opening. 

In announcing the project, Kansas City owner John Sherman said, “I believe in my gut the timing is right for the Royals to become residents of the Crossroads.”

The Royals will be pursuing some of the same broader development trends that other MLB clubs such as the Braves and Rangers have used in recent years to supplement their revenue beyond traditional sources such as tickets, media rights, and sponsorships. For Kansas City, though, the need for elevation is even more palpable as the team finished the 2023 season with the league’s second-worst record (56–106), third-lowest attendance (1.3 million), and seventh-lowest player payroll ($96 million).

On Deck

The next big step in the Royals’ development process will be an April 2 election in which Jackson County, Mo., voters will decide whether to extend an existing sales tax to help finance both the Royals ballpark and renovations to the Chiefs’ Arrowhead Stadium. The ballot measure has been the source of its own recent drama as Jackson County executive Frank White Jr., also a former Royals star player, vetoed the ballot measure last month, but the county legislature quickly moved to override that veto. 

“We’re the second-smallest city with both an NFL franchise and an MLB club. We want to sustain ourselves as a major league city and we want to make sure these franchises thrive here for the next 50 years,” Sherman said.

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