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'A border surrender': Missouri leaders face challenge to keep Chiefs, Royals

Wes Rogers and son Hank
Truman Sports Complex Kauffman and Arrowhead.jpeg
Hank Rogers
Posted at 5:56 PM, Jun 19, 2024

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Now that the Kansas Legislature has opened the door to lure the Kansas City Chiefs and Royals across the state line with STAR bonds incentives, the ball is back in Missouri’s court.

Some KC-area leaders have characterized the move as tearing up the truce between the states when it comes to poaching businesses, but Kansas City, Missouri, City Councilman Wes Rogers doesn’t see it that way.

"I was talking to the mayor yesterday and I told him, 'I don't know why we're calling this an economic border war. Right now, it’s not — what it is is a border surrender,’” Rogers said.

Wes Rogers and son Hank
Kansas leaders opened the door to lure the Chiefs and Royals across the state line with STAR bonds incentives. Kansas City, Missouri, Councilman Wes Rogers hope Missouri shows the same resolve.

But he’s not angry at Kansas’ brazen overtures to the Chiefs and Royals — far from it.

"Let me start by complimenting the state of Kansas," Roger said. "They saw an opportunity, they stepped up to the plate, and they're coming up with solutions to keep them in the region. Sincerely, that's incredible leadership."

He’d like to see Missouri show the same kind of leadership.

"The choice is pretty simple, we can have Taylor Swift cheering on Travis Kelce and Patrick Mahomes and our Super Bowl-winning Chiefs, or we can have a hole in the ground where a stadium used to be," Rogers said.

We caught up with Rogers and his son, Hank, as they prepared to fly to Oakland to catch a Royals game — a father-son bonding trip to check off another ballpark.

"I thought it was going to go to swim practice and then instead we're gonna go to Oakland’s last game in a California series against the Kansas City Royals," Hank said.

Baseball is among the ties that bind these generations of Rogers men.

“Baseball is kind of me and my dad's thing,” Hank said. “We go outside, the first thing I think of is working on my four-seam fastball, pitching with my dad. Baseball is just our thing.”

Hank Rogers
Kansas leaders opened the door to lure the Chiefs and Royals across the state line with STAR bonds incentives. Kansas City, Missouri, Councilman Wes Rogers — and his son, Hank (pictured) — hope Missouri shows the same resolve.

Wes and Hank Rogers hope Royals baseball — and the Chiefs — will remain in Kansas City, Missouri.

“I'm a Missourian and I want the team to be here, so I want to make sure that — I take this as a challenge to our leadership,” Wes said. “Let's step up and give an even better proposal, both for the teams and for the taxpayers. But heck yeah, I'm nervous about it.”

KCMO Mayor Quinton Lucas has made it clear he wants to keep the teams and Jackson County Legislator Manny Abarca is working to resurrect a plan at the county level.

Gov. Mike Parson said Missouri will be competitive, but his office said there’s no plan to call a special session at the moment and there’s been no public indication of a plan at the state level to keep the Show-Me State’s lone remaining NFL team and the Royals.

Rogers hopes that changes.

“Missouri’s got twice the gross domestic product of the state of Kansas,” Rogers said. “We've got more than twice the amount of people in the state of Kansas. Jackson County is the most populous county in the region. Kansas City, Missouri, is the most populous city in the region, so we've got the tools. We can put together a proposal for the teams that is great for the teams and a great opportunity for the taxpayers, too. We just need the political will to do it.”

Parson would have to call a special session if the state of Missouri is going to contribute to the effort to keep the Chiefs — and avoid losing its only remaining NFL team — but the looming gubernatorial election and legislative infighting could derail any plan at the expense of Missouri’s bottom line and pride.

“They've (Kansas) put themselves in a situation where they may lead one or two major league sports teams,” Wes said. “They may add one or two billion-dollar companies and all the economic growth that will come with that.”