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Is Royals, Chiefs stadium sales tax proposal driving democracy?

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Posted at 8:22 AM, Feb 27, 2024

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Is the sales tax proposal for the Chiefs and Royals stadiums driving democracy? The short answer: possibly.

Here's how. The Kansas City Royals announced plans to build their new ballpark and entertainment district in the Crossroads District in downtown Kansas City, Missouri.

It's now up to voters to pass a question related to a 3/8-cent sales tax used for maintaining stadiums for the Kansas City Chiefs and Royals.

If voters sign off and pass the question, it would repeal a current sales tax that's been in effect since 2006 and that is set to expire in 2031. A new, but same rate of 3/8-cents would replace the existing tax and begin a new 40-year time frame from 2024 to 2064.

These conversations have sparked months of conversations for fans, residents, business owners and leaders across Kansas City.

Absentee voting is already open for the April election where voters will decide. Election officials in Kansas City said they're seeing double the amount of voters they'd usually see at this point for an April election.

“So far we’ve had 38 voters come in and vote, which is about double of what we anticipated for an April election," said Shawn Kieffer, Kansas City Election Board director of elections.

Absentee voting started Feb. 20. Kieffer said higher voter turnout in just a week is likely because of the stadium sales tax proposal.

“On day one, we had 17 people come in and vote," he said. "Generally, for an April election, we might have a handful. But I think the news and media covered the Royals stadium issue so much that people were excited and wanted to come in and make sure their votes were counted.”

Kieffer said they generally expect a 12% vote for an April election. But with the stadium sales tax question, he said it could increase to a 20% vote for this election.

“What people may or may not realize is this is a tax that’s going to run for 40 years. It’s probably going to run most of their lifetime," he said. "With a stadium possibly being downtown, of course there are a lot of issues such as highways, parking, streets. It really affects Kansas City greatly to have the ballpark downtown.”

So is this ballot question driving democracy? Well, it's certainly sparking conversations and bringing more voters to the polls. We'll know the true outcome after election day on April 2.

Wednesday, March 6, is the last day to register to vote for this election.

Absentee voting is open for people who can't vote on election day.

Early voting starts on March 19 and runs for the last two weeks of the absentee period. Early voting is when anybody can come in to vote, don’t have to have an excuse for why they want to vote early.