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To keep Chiefs in Jackson County, legislator introduces second proposal

Manny Abarca wants 1 proposal on November’s ballot
manny abarca.png
Posted at 5:42 PM, Jul 01, 2024

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Monday, the Jackson County Legislature amended one proposal to help keep the Kansas City Chiefs playing football at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium and introduced a new, second proposal.

But the group did not make any final decision on either option.

Legislator Manny Abarca introduced both ordinances. He’d like one of them — or a third compromised version — to go before voters in November to help fund a Chiefs stadium project.

Abarca supported a sales tax proposal voters rejected in April to benefit both the Chiefs and Royals.

Since the vote failed, Abarca’s been working on new options for the teams as both have expressed interest in relocating or renovating their stadiums before their leases expire in January 2031.

Manny Abarca

“We’re running out of time here,” Abarca said.

Both of the options discussed Monday benefit only the Chiefs.

Here’s how they compare.

Ordinance 5860

  • Legislators amended the sales tax rate on this proposal Monday from 3/16th-cent to 1/8th-cent.
  • The sales tax would be in place for 25 years.
  • This would generate about $415 million for the Chiefs.
  • The tax would take effect Oct. 1, 2031.

Ordinance 5861

  • Legislators introduced this proposal Monday.
  • It sets the sales tax rate at 3/8th-cent.
  • The tax would be in place for 40 years.
  • It would generate about $2 billion.
  • The tax would take effect Oct. 1, 2031.

Abarca said the second option might give the Chiefs enough money to build a brand-new stadium.
Kansas leaders put the idea of a new stadium on the table by passing upgrades to the state’s STAR Bond program last month in an effort to lure the team across the state line.

“Whenever you're on a border, it just becomes so much more difficult for negotiating with any kind of developers because they can say, ‘Oh, if you don't like this, we're gonna go to the other guy,'" explained Neil deMause, co-author of Field of Schemes.

Neil deMause

He’s researched publicly financed stadium projects across the United States and found they rarely impact the community as positively as advertised.

deMause suggests leaders explore how to make a stadium deal better for taxpayers, not teams.

“I think the first thing to make these deals better is to bring the public cost down a lot," he said. "The best way to increase the bang for your buck is to reduce the number of bucks."

In both of Abarca’s proposals, the Chiefs would not receive any tax dollars until they agreed to a community benefits package. These agreements typically include pledges from the team to pay employees livable wages and invest in other social causes.

“An opportunity exists for us to really talk about a robust community benefits component to share with voters what they’re going to get in return beyond a team and stadium in Kansas City,” Abarca said.

The county legislature should pick back up discussions on both proposals later this month.

The deadline to place a question on November’s ballot is Aug. 27.