Royals’ owner John Sherman, officials outline early stages of downtown ballpark district

Royals Listening Session.JPG
Posted at 7:07 PM, Dec 13, 2022
and last updated 2022-12-14 00:27:32-05

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — For the first time since announcing plans to relocate the Kansas City Royals downtown, team owner John Sherman and others offered an early glimpse of their vision during a community listening session Tuesday.

The team invited members of the public who had RSVP’d to join Sherman, architects and others at the first of what’s described as a “listening tour” across Kansas City.

In November, Sherman announced a $2 billion ballpark district plan that would relocate the team to a site in the downtown Kansas City area. 

While the team is still narrowing down the exact footprint of the stadium and district, at least 14 sites have been studied in the downtown area.

The $2 billion price tag would be roughly split 50/50 between a new stadium and the surrounding district.

The funding for the project remains largely unclear, though the team provided a glimpse through a new FAQ section on the website.

It’s there where the team says there will be “many funding sources” for the project. One of those sources is the extension of a Jackson County sales tax that’s currently set to run through 2031.

“We will not ask Jackson County citizens to contribute any more tax dollars than they already do today,” the team says on the website.

The team also says the ownership group, which Sherman chairs, plans to invest “hundreds of millions of dollars” into the project.

Part of Tuesday’s session included details about why the team believes a move from Kauffman Stadium is necessary.

Sarah Dempster, a principal at Kansas City-based sports architectural firm Populous, cited issues involving concrete, plumbing, electrical, HVAC and other issues that would make renovating Kauffman problematic.

Earl Santee, global chair and founder at Populous, estimates that the price of renovating the existing stadium would be roughly the same as building an entirely new ballpark.

Santee estimates the new ballpark would host about 34,000 fans, with options for special events and standing room only. Planners say they’ve identified 55,000 parking spots available in the downtown area that would be available for fans.

The firm has studied tailgating options, parking access and traffic flow and found that, with an event happening alongside a Royals game, fans might need a 20-minute round-trip walk to and from a parking space.

This is a developing story and will be updated.