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Negotiating sales tax deal with Royals wasn't on volunteer's '2024 bingo card'

Volunteer talks about negotiation process
David Johnson, member of the Crossroads Community Association Board
Posted at 7:49 PM, Apr 03, 2024

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — It’s been a day since voters rejected Question 1, a sales tax the Royals would've used to help fund a ballpark in the Crossroads District in downtown Kansas City, Missouri.

KSHB 41's Megan Abundis caught up with the communities involved in the process.

"I certainly didn’t have negotiations with a Major League Baseball team on my 2024 bingo card," said David Johnson, a member of the Crossroads Community Association Board.

Johnson is a part of the all-volunteer Crossroads Community Association Board.

He described what it was like to negotiate directly with team leadership.

"It was something we didn’t anticipate doing — that it would take this much time away from our other activities in the neighborhood," Johnson said. "We didn’t get an attorney to help us with our negotiation until very late in the process. We’re hopeful that going forward, the city, the county, and the team will take a more thoughtful approach to engaging the neighborhood."

Johnson called it a respectful process, but gave advice on what the teams could be do better next time.

“A lot more outreach, a lot more thoughtfulness, a lot more time for people to ingest what’s being proposed," he said.

He hopes to Royals seek data that explains why people voted no.

He said his board serves the Crossroads creatives, entrepreneurs, artists, tenants, property owners, and Crossroads residents too.

“We don’t please everybody, and consensus can be hard to come by," he said. “I would ask for the community’s patience to understand that people’s livelihoods were at stake here, and it wasn’t a simple real estate transaction."

Johnson talked about the possibility of the Royals proposing a new deal but in the same location.

"I don’t know the answer to that," he said. "It was so heated and so fast, I don’t know that anybody could really say today they know what would happen."

Johnson’s personal preference would be to expand on the East Village in downtown KCMO.

But to do it all over again, in any location, he hopes for more education.

“More education about the traffic, the displacement, the demolition — any of the various issues that were brought up," he said. "Take some time to educate the public, engage the neighborhood that you'll land in, and by all means talk to the property owners and tenants before you release a rendering that shows your footprint on top of them."

A few months ago, Clay County was in the queue for a possible Royals stadium location.

Former Clay County Mayor David Slater weighed in on the sales tax failing.

"This is where the Royals should have been, but it wasn’t their pick," Slater said.

Slater left the possibility of a Clay County Royals ballpark open.

"They got our number; if they want to come back, they can see what they got — nobodies slamming any doors up here," Slater said. “To be one of 27 markets in the world, you can’t beat that; it would have been amazing.”

Slater felt they could have gotten the votes to make it happen in Clay County.

“I would virtually guarantee that we would have passed that vote up here," Slater said.