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360: Multiple perspectives on Chiefs and Royals stadium saga in Kansas City

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Posted at 5:25 AM, May 09, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-09 13:27:17-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — As part of KSHB 41 News' commitment to providing context and depth in our reporting, we've excited to share our latest project, which we're calling 360. This project takes stories and topics that our communities are talking about and explores different perspectives on the issue. You can be a part of the process by e-mailing your ideas and thoughts to us at 360@kshb.com.

In the past several weeks, there have been many headlines about the future stadium homes of the Kansas City Royals and Chiefs.

The Royals have confirmed they are looking into whether to relocate from Kauffman Stadium to downtown Kansas City. The Chiefs are studying whether to stay at Arrowhead Stadium or move across the state line to Kansas.

In this 360 story, we hear from multiple perspectives, including:

  • Executives from both teams 
  • A downtown Kansas City business leader 
  • Fans 
  • Author who warns of public financing 
  • Sports radio hosts 

Executives from the Chiefs

Kansas City Chiefs Chairman and CEO Clark Hunt spoke in April about the decision-making process. The team is spending $500,000 studying Arrowhead Stadium’s viability past the end of the lease in 2031.

“We’ve started the process of evaluating whether Arrowhead has a chance of going past the end of this lease,” Hunt said. “Certainly, my heart told me that it’s Arrowhead, right, since Arrowhead is so special to our family.”

Chiefs Team President Mark Donovan told a crowd in April that Clark Hunt told a group of team officials of the magnitude of their decision.

“He said, 'The people in this room are making the biggest decision in the history of our franchise. Don’t screw it up,'” Donovan recalled.

On that Downtown Council panel, Donovan also personally backed a Royals relocation.

“(I’m a) big supporter of what they’re doing, not just because it frees up our options up at Arrowhead,” Donovan said as the crowd laughed.

Chiefs officials have noted the possibility of developing the area around Arrowhead if the Royals were to leave Kauffman.

Executive at the Royals

“We think baseball belongs downtown, when you look around the country,” Royals Senior Vice President Brooks Sherman said.

On the same panel, Sherman pointed to other cities, like San Diego, Houston and St. Louis, who all built downtown stadiums.

"When you look at those cities and you see what they’ve done, there’s not a single one of them that regrets putting that stadium downtown,” he said.

Downtown business leader

Bill Dietrich is with the downtown council in Kansas City. He represents downtown business interests. He’s in favor of a downtown Royals stadium.

“These unique assets build on each other. They have a synergy. They have an ability to give a great return to our community,” he said.

He believes the business argument for a downtown stadium is what he calls "collision density." By that he means it will give visitors more to do downtown, and a stadium would be close to the T-Mobile Center and the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts.

In Dietrich's mind, the financial benefits will follow.

"Sales tax, new employees, new jobs, increased earning tax, helps all of our neighborhoods be healthier,” he said.

Fans of both teams

We talked to three fans who are fans of both teams. All three had a tougher time supporting a Chiefs move than the Royals relocating downtown.

“Personally, I hope it doesn’t change because all the memories at Arrowhead,” said John Sheridan, owner of the moving company, A Friend with a Truck.

One of his employees agreed.

“I’m going to follow them regardless, but I don’t want them to go to Kansas,” Charlie Brown said.

He added: “No, I don't have a dog named Snoopy, in case anyone is wondering.”

Sheridan and Brown were helping Claire Cecil move from her apartment.

“It's the Kansas City Chiefs. Not the Kansas City Kansas Chiefs,” Cecil said.

The fans also had questions about a Royals move.

“Moving to downtown KC would be nice, in concept, but like realistically, that would be a nightmare,” Cecil sao\id, questioning downtown parking.

“That would kind of be cool,” Brown added. “Something different, at least it's still in state. Probably bad on traffic.”

Author who warns of public financing

Neil deMause is co-author of the book ‘Field of Schemes’.

DeMause notes recent NFL stadium deals in Buffalo and Nashville, which both included public/private partnerships. The new Bills stadium will cost taxpayers $850 million. The new Titans stadium is estimated to cost taxpayers $710 million.

"At this point, public funding is such an integral part of the business model for sports owners, that they're really not going to give it up anytime soon,” he said.

DeMause points to economic studies that show new stadiums aren’t the economic windfall they sometimes claim to be. But they are valuable to team owners, whom he says leverage their team’s popularity against local politicians.

"Public money for stadiums is 100% a bipartisan thing,” he added. “You know, it happens in blue states, it happens in red states and happens in purple states.”

Local sports radio hosts

"It’s a life topic, that runs into sports,” Soren Petro, a host for Sports Radio 810 WHB, said.

Petro and fellow host, Jason Anderson, have talked about the stadiums issues plenty recently.

Petro said he’s heard an earful from fans, especially from Royals fans.

"Frustrated fans will tack anything on, so it’s the ‘Royals aren’t winning, they can’t pitch, and if they think I’m going to pay for a stadium,’ it gets thrown on,” he said. “Winning makes it a little easier, maybe a little easier for the Chiefs, these days, with four straight conference championship games and say, and now it’s time to build.”

Anderson is a Kansas City-area native.

“Arrowhead will be more of a hotter, more vitriolic, maybe, debate if it’s Jackson County (versus) Johnson/Wyandotte,” he said.

He worries the questions about the Chiefs possibly moving to Kansas leans into the state line rivalry.

"It’s a strategy of getting the best deal,” he continued. “I get it, but to me it just causes unneeded division in a city that has that already with the state line.”

As part of KSHB 41 News' commitment to providing context and depth in our reporting, we've excited to share our latest project, which we're calling 360. This project takes stories and topics that our communities are talking about and explores different perspectives on the issue. You can be a part of the process by e-mailing your ideas and thoughts to us at 360@kshb.com.