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Voters say player endorsements for April 2 stadium tax ballot question won't sway their decision

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Posted at 6:37 PM, Mar 05, 2024

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Whether voters support or oppose a question on the April 2 ballot in Jackson County, Missouri, they have one thing in common: a commercial with Chiefs and Royals players will not impact their vote.

The teams are asking voters to repeal an existing 3/8-cent sales tax in the county set to expire in 2031 and replace it with a sales tax at the same rate, but in place for 40 years. The teams split the money evenly.

The Royals will use the money to build a new stadium in the Crossroads. The Chiefs will use their share of the money to renovate GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium.

On Monday, the Committee to Keep the Chiefs and Royals in Jackson County released a 15-second commercial with star players encouraging people to vote yes.

The video features Patrick Mahomes, Travis Kelce, Andy Reid, Bobby Witt, Jr. and Salvador Perez, among others.

State records show both teams contributed $500,000 to the committee.

Debra Leiter, an associate professor of political science at University Missouri - Kansas City, said celebrity endorsements help raise awareness and redirect the conversation about a particular issue.

“Part of the strategy here — and this is very common with celebrity endorsements — is to change the way people are talking about the issue; to move it toward a question about the Chiefs and the Royals, and not just the Royals downtown stadium,” Leiter said.

Her research shows endorsements from labor unions and other interest groups generally have a larger impact on voters’ decisions.

Voters who spoke with KSHB 41 News said the ad won’t impact their decision.

“I do not idolize celebrities; y’all can pay for it yourself," Brandon Taylor said.

Dillon Fuchsman, another voter, expressed a similar sentiment.

“It doesn’t surprise me Mahomes, who is a part of the Royals ownership group, is going to be in favor of it," Fuchsman pointed out. “But that does not sway me.”

“Why would they [Mahomes, Kelce, and other players] say no,” Billy Williams asked with a laugh.

“Love them all, but this just needs to be downtown,” Steve Davis explained his position doesn’t depend on player endorsements.

A separate group called Committee Against New Royals Stadium Taxes created a political action committee urging voters to choose "no" on the ballot.