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Chiefs, Royals give updates on negotiations ahead of April 2 sales tax vote

Teams have nearly completed new leases, community benefits agreements
sarah tourville.jpg
Posted at 7:24 PM, Mar 18, 2024

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Representatives for the Chiefs and Royals said the teams are "extremely close" to finalizing new leases with Jackson County before April 2, when voters will decide whether or not to pay a sales tax that would essentially fund stadium projects in the county for the teams.

Several Kansas City-area civic groups held a listening session with the team representatives on Monday. Afterward, a representative from each team met with the media.

The teams said they hope to release details of community benefits agreements this week. These agreements are promises the teams will keep if voters approve the measure.

Such promises could include training, healthcare and childcare for construction employees or initiatives such as building affordable housing and hiring union or minority-owned contractors.

The Chiefs would use money from the sales tax to renovate GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium. The Royals would use their share to build a new stadium in downtown Kansas City, Missouri's Crossroads neighborhood.

With the stadium relocation, the Royals are working on a separate community benefits agreement with the Crossroads Community Association.

Sarah Tourville, one of the team’s executive vice presidents and the Royals' chief commercial and community impact officer, said the agreement with the neighborhood will include construction mitigation for businesses.

She also said it will help artists and entertainers continue to flourish and live in the community as well as help fund a community improvement district in the neighborhood.

“We will invest in that and continue to make sure all people benefit from our community benefits agreement,” Tourville said.

The Royals also promised Kansas City Public Schools wouldn’t lose funding from this proposal. To build a new stadium — which will belong to the county, which doesn’t pay property taxes — the team has to take over properties currently paying taxes benefitting the school district.

Both teams explained they’ll ask the city and state for more financial help on top of the county-wide sales tax, which may come in the form of federal grants.

“The state is going to wait until April 2 to make any decisions or commitments,” Chiefs President Mark Donovan said. “We feel good about where we are there. We’ve had good conversations with the mayor [of Kansas City] and exactly what our expectations are there. I would say this, the bulk of that money will be state funding and not city funding.”

During Monday’s meeting, KC Tenants interrupted the discussion. The group opposes the sales tax proposal, defending its stance the working class shouldn’t have to fund a project for the wealthy.

KC Tenants also called for more transparency.

“KC Tenants wanted to be here today because we know the people who are going to be directly impacted by this stadium project and stadium tax aren’t really being invited into these stadiums to begin with,” said Magda Werkmeister, KC Tenants' hotline and operations organizer. “We thought it would be important to show up and talk to folks who are proposing this plan about the impacts on Kansas Citians and our lives.”

The teams said those in attendance at the listening session were able to continue the meeting after the interruption.

“It was unfortunate a few loud voices muffled the opportunity for others to educate,” Tourville said. “What we have to make sure happens is those few loud voices don’t distract our community from doing something transformational for the next 40 years.”