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Answering your questions about Chiefs, Royals stadium sales tax vote

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Posted at 5:19 PM, Mar 25, 2024

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Voters in Jackson County will help shape the future of the Royals and Chiefs when deciding Question 1 on April 2’s ballot.

The sales tax question would help the Royals relocate their stadium to downtown Kansas City and help the Chiefs pay for renovations at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium.

As viewers submit questions about the vote to KSHB 41, the newsroom has begun researching some of the submissions.

Will there be tailgating if the Royals move downtown?

The short answer is possibly.

Last week, the Royals’ consultants laid out the team’s parking strategy. The Royals will mostly rely on existing parking spaces in garages and surface parking lots around downtown.

“Some of the lots are surface. So whether or not we can work out agreements on the tailgating, I think that’s part of the conversation,” said Jeff McKerrow, senior transportation engineer at Kimley-Horn.

How are the teams going to pay for the community benefits agreement? Does the sales tax money pay for this?

The short answer is no.

The sales tax will not pay for the community benefits agreement.

Money collected from the sales tax can only be used on parks. While the stadiums fall into that category, elements of the CBA do not; the teams will have to pay for their promises within the CBA themselves.

It is possible the teams could make donations to the CBA initiatives from their charitable arms — the Kansas City Royals Foundation and the Hunt Family Foundation.

What improvements to I-70 entrances and exits near the new stadium will be needed to provide safe and easier access? Are the Royals seeking state and federal assistance for needed work?

The short answer is no improvements are needed.

A spokesperson from the Missouri Department of Transportation said Monday the department is unaware of any talks about rebuilding the interstate.

The Royals proposed extending an already planned cap or lid over I-670 downtown but have not mentioned any changes to interstates or entrance and exit ramps in and around downtown.

Where is the detailed CBA? Why was it released so late in the process?

The CBA is now in the hands of the county legislature.

This isn't really that late in the process; the CBA for the new terminal at Kansas City International Airport came after voters approved the project

Will there be ADA parking near the stadium?

Yes. Last Thursday, Jay Graber, senior planner at Populous, told reporters accessible parking "is a huge factor, a huge key."

He said the proximity to the station will be as it is today.

"There will be dedicated areas for handicapped and disabled parking that can access the stadium easily," Graber said.

Have the Royals given KC Public Library the same guarantee as KC Public Schools?

Per reporter Alyssa Jackson's story last week, the answer was no. However, we are working to learn more.

If the "Yes" vote passes, can the Royals still build the new stadium elsewhere? Like the original downtown location on the east side of the loop?

Technically, yes.

There are no permits or approvals given for the Crossroads site, but the Royals have repeatedly said the Crossroads is their No. 1 choice, so it's unlikely they'll stray from that.

There's a clause in the ordinance that put the question on the ballot that the Royals site has to be "at a location acceptable by the county."

What happens if this does not pass?

Both teams said they'll "review their options."

In 2004, when a bi-state tax for the teams failed, owners brought back a new proposal in 2006 — the one we're currently under — and secured voter approval to remain where they are.

How does funding work? Does Jackson County take out bonds that the tax repays? If so, how much does that limit the city/county from borrowing toward possibly more pressing needs?

Yes. Bonds will be involved so teams can receive a big chunk of money upfront, and the tax will pay off those bonds.

We are working to learn more about how the bond would impact the county/city's ability to apply for a new bond on a different topic.

What happens to the existing 177 million, or about, that is still due on the old stadium?

The ballot question says that outstanding debt will be refinanced: "refinancing debt obligations previously incurred to finance or refinance improvements to the Harry S. Truman Sports Complex.

Instead of spending billions on a new stadium, why don't the Royals invest in quality players?

Some could argue the team has made many investments this offseason, including a club-record deal to keep Bobby Witt Jr.

But ultimately, the Royals believe an increase in revenue from the entertainment district will give them more money to spend on quality players.

How much is this state sales tax on a $100 purchase?

The tax is 37.5 cents for every $100 spent.

What will happen to Kauffman Stadium if the Royals move downtown? Will Jackson County be on the hook for demolition of the stadium?

The teams have repeatedly promised to pay for demolition with private money.

Has the stadium remodel during the All-Star Game even been paid off yet?

Reporter Charlie Keegan said he doesn't not believe so. However, the remodel will be paid off no matter what voters decide April 2.

With the current 3/8 sales tax not set to expire until 2031 and there are multiple times per year to vote, what is the big hurry with voting now before all the details have been worked out?

The teams said they negotiated new leases seven and nine-ish years before they expired in the past.

Answering your questions: Why the rush?

Is it possible one or both teams leave the Kansas City metropolitan area if the vote doesn't pass?

Anything is possible.

Theoretically, a move could cost the same or less if another city is willing to give the team a good deal — like more tax incentives or other public funding.

Friday, Royals President of Business Operations Brooks Sherman spoke about what could happen if the "No" vote wins.

“We will take a step back and pause and determine what our next steps may be. What we have said is that we need a new stadium for the Kansas City Royals," he said. "Our lease runs through our season of 2030, we will not be here (Kauffman Stadium) after that. We will have a new location in which to play baseball. We want this to pass.

He went on to detail how the team is "working hard to do it."

"We think it’s the best thing for Jackson County, for Kansas City, for the region to do this," Sherman said. "It is additive to what momentum is already present in Kansas City downtown. It connects the Crossroads to Power and Light, so we think it’s the right thing to do.”

As for the Chiefs, in a conversation with KSHB 41 news anchor Kevin Holmes, Chiefs President Mark Donovan said leaving Kansas City would be a possibility.

Holmes: “Could the Royals leave Kansas City?”

Donovan: “I can’t answer that for the Royals. I just know for us, the Chiefs, we would just have to look at all our options.”

Holmes: “Do those options include leaving Kansas City, Missouri?”

Donovan: “I think they would have to include leaving Kansas City. But our goal here is, we want to stay here. And we’re willing to accept a deal for the county to actually stay here.”

What are the Royals and Chiefs doing to make attending games more affordable for Joe Average? Working families cannot afford to pay $200 for a family of four to attend a Royals or Chiefs game.

The Royals committed to giving Jackson County residents discounts at certain games.

How much taxpayer money is required? What investments will be made by the Royals and Chiefs organizations?

The Royals will make more than $1 billion in investments and the Chiefs will make $300 million in investments.

I would like to know if the Royals can guarantee decreased to zero blackout games? We know this is to drive in stadium attendance, but most of the people paying for these new stadiums may never have the chance to see one in person. 

Blackout restrictions are an MLB rule, not a Royals rule. Of course, the Royals could advocate for MLB to change those rules, but it would require support from other clubs and league officials.

However, MLB commissionerRob Manfred did tell a baseball podcast that eliminating blackouts is one of his objectives.

Every city with a downtown stadium, that I am aware of, has a robust metro-wide public transit system; think Chicago, San Francisco, Baltimore, etc. Why do the Royals believe that on game days parking will not be a mess?

Last week, the team behind the plans for the Royals’ new stadium said 1,500 parking spots will be included in the development, but about 7,500 vehicles will have to utilize existing surface parking lots and garages.

One idea would incorporate zones fans can pay for ahead of the game to reserve a spot. But business owners and downtown workers are concerned.

“People going to work, people not even going to the game, going somewhere else, it’s just, I don’t think it’s going to be capable,” said Micah Beaver, who works downtown.

The team estimates 30% of fans will utilize walking, rideshare services or mass transit (like the streetcar) to get to games. Additionally, the club's goal is to reserve street parking for those visiting businesses in the Crossroads.

To address traffic, the team is considering creating an Integrated Operation Center, where game-day traffic would be monitored in a way real-time changes could be made to smooth the flow.

What would the name of the new stadium for the Royals be? Who would name it?

Nothing is set in stone at this time.

After opening in 1973, Kauffman Stadium was known as Royals Stadium for its first 20 years. The stadium was renamed in 1993 to honor Ewing Kauffman, the team’s founder.

Now affectionately called “The K,” the stadium is simply named “Royals Park” in renderings of the club’s plan for a Crossroads stadium.

“There’s a way to honor Mr. Kauffman,” Royals President of Business Operations Brooks Sherman said in August. “We haven’t honestly gotten that far in there, but you can bet that there’s certainly a way to honor him and we will do everything we can to do that. But there’s economics that can go into things there, too, and you’ve seen that throughout the league.”

Club officials hope to sell the naming rights for a new stadium.

“Honestly, I hope that we’re selling the stadium to a local business that wants to put their naming rights on it,” Sarah Tourville, Royals Executive Vice President-Chief Commercial Officer and Community Impact, previously told KSHB 41.

Who paid for the new soccer stadium?

CPKC stadium, the new home of the KC Current, cost $120 million and was entirely privately funded, except for $5.5 million in tax credits from the Missouri Development Finance Board.

What remodeling will be done on GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium?

At the end of February, the Chiefs revealed the team’s plans to renovate GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium.

While assuring fans the “spirit of Arrowhead will not change,” the Chiefs plan to install an activation area, an upper concourse connection bridge, VIP stadium entry points, a field access tunnel, larger video boards, sideline and end zone clubs, create additional parking and construct a pedestrian bridge, among other upgrades.

RELATED | Chiefs reveal plans, renderings for future of GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium

Are small businesses still being torn down to put up new businesses by the stadium or has that changed now that Oak Street is staying open?

Royals Chairman and CEO John Sherman said Wednesday afternoon the decision to keep Oak Street open “doesn’t really change much about the stadium.”

He said after listening to the community, the club decided to keep that artery to downtown open as it’s a “key part of the neighborhood.”

Later, he explained he envisions a hotel right across from the stadium where a walkway would connect the hotel to the concourse of the stadium.

So is the public to expect home runs on Oak?

“Haven’t really thought about the trajectory to get one over there … might break a window in the hotel, I don’t know,” Sherman said.

John Sherman: 'Might break a window in the hotel'

Questions we are working to answer

  • If the federal grant wasn't given for the green space over I-70 to the city, how will that affect the new Royals proposal moving forward?
  • If the Royals move downtown, is the amount of tax revenue collected from the existing sports stadium going to decrease?
  • Is the city's park over the interstate part of the funds that the Royals are going to use in building the stadium?
  • What will be the dollar amount of the shortfall still owed of this current sales tax that will be refinanced with the new sales tax in 2031? What is the guarantee that this new round of sales tax will be enough to cover the refinance and new plans?
  • Once the Royals move downtown, who pays for the upkeep and maintenance costs of their old stadium?

Do you have questions? Submit below.