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Royals, Chiefs continue community conversations about vote for stadiums sales tax

Stadium sales tax vote
Posted at 10:50 PM, Mar 25, 2024

KANSAS CITY, Mo — Jackson County voters could be deciding on April 2nd the future of the Royals and Chiefs in Kansas City.

The 3/8-cent stadiums sales tax has brought out vocal critics and pointed questions for team owners and county leaders.

"The thing for me is I was born in Kansas City. I’ve been here forever. I was a firefighter and still to this day, I retired, but live in Kansas City," said Patrick Dujakovich, President of the Greater Kansas City AFL-CIO. "It would break my heart to see the next Chiefs Super Bowl parade in St. Louis."

Labor union leaders met privately with team executives Monday night to discuss the sales tax, negotiations and benefits.

The union leaders have been pushing the teams to make a deal with them that protects the careers of their members.

A leader from SEIU Local 1 shared the union was able to come to a historic fair employment agreement that protects workers and contractors.

"I have workers who helped build the stadium and started working for the KC Royals and have been there ever since," said Rose Welch, SEIU Local 1. "They are parking attendants, tollgate attendants. These are people whose jobs may not exist in the new stadium."

The teams released information last week about a community benefits agreement that describes how they would invest in community programs in Kansas City.

Officials with the Royals and Chiefs sent a lengthy letter to Jackson County legislators accusing County Executive Frank White, Jr. of delaying negotiations.

For two and a half years, the Kansas Chiefs and the Kansas City Royals attempted to directly engage in constructive conversation with County Executive Frank White about the future of our teams in Jackson County, and for two and a half years, we have been met repeatedly with barriers to progress. Today is no different.

The Chiefs and the Royals have been in proud partnership with Jackson County for 50 years, and we are working tirelessly to make sure that partnership continues for decades to come. Meanwhile, County Executive White is playing political games with our county’s future and both teams’ ability to make a lasting impact on the community.

Royals and Chiefs

"Let me just say this about Frank. He's one of the best, greatest athletes to ever play for the franchise," said Royals Owner John Sherman. "Seven Gold Gloves, All-Star, World Series champion. I have great respect for him as an athlete."

Sherman echoed the frustrations outlined in the letter from both teams.

​"He wouldn't negotiate with us, wouldn't meet with us. A lot of obstruction," Sherman said.

KSHB 41 reached out for a response from County Executive Frank White, Jr. KSHB 41had not gotten a response by late Monday night.

"I see that being a valid concern, but I can also see dragging your feet being a negotiating tactic, so it's not purely disparaging the county exec.," said Sean Smith, a member of the Jackson County Legislature. "We got some great concessions from the tactic he took, but I think it maybe went on a little too long."

The lease and community benefits agreements were not discussed in the legislature's meeting on Monday, but Jackson County Legislators Manny Abarca and Smith said the documents are binding. They both realize the way this process has played out could have an effect on the outcome of the vote April 2.

"I hope it isn't a no," Abarca said. "I don't think we'll be able to go back and try again."

Smith said he doesn't know how much of the agreements will be final by the time voters have to make a decision.

"By moving this onto the ballot, we knew we were giving voters a choice," Smith said. "That's often the case in life with less than complete information and voters have to decide if that's okay."

The Royals said Monday they are still negotiating with property owners, business owners and tenants to come to an agreement.

There is no legal timeline for when the legislators must approve lease agreements and community benefits agreements from the teams, according to Smith and Abarca.