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Voters Reject Stadium Tax For Royals And Chiefs

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Voters in Jackson County, Missouri voted overwhelmingly against a sales tax measure that would have given money to the Royals and Chiefs, per reports from Dave Skretta of the Associated Press and Mike Hendricks of The Kansas City Star. 58% of voters were against the measure with just 42% in support.

The Royals currently play in Kauffman Stadium while the Chiefs play in Arrowhead Stadium, with both facilities sitting next to each other as part of the Truman Sports Complex. The Royals are hoping to build a new stadium at a new location, revealing some plans back in February. The Chiefs are hoping to stay at Arrowhead but were hoping to secure funding for renovations. Sam Robinson of Pro Football Rumors recently took a look at the news from the Chiefs’ perspective.

The proposed measure would have replaced an existing three-eighths of a cent capital improvements sales tax, which was approved by voters in 2006, with a new three-eighths of a cent sales tax that would run through 2064. Per the proposal, the money from that tax would help pay for the Royals’ planned new ballpark and renovations of Arrowhead.

Royals owner John Sherman said he was “deeply disappointed” with the result but didn’t reveal what his next steps would be. “We will take some time to reflect on and process the outcome and find a path forward that works for the Royals and our fans,” he said.

Owners of sports franchises often dangle the threat of leaving town as a means of hopefully extracting public money for building or upgrading stadiums. This is something Sherman did in recent weeks, per Hendricks. “This is about sustaining ourselves as a major league city,” Sherman said last month. “There’s lots of cities that would love to have these franchises.”

Per this week’s reporting, Sherman has backed off of that stance, saying that it was an idea that came from political strategists. “Somebody smarter than me finds that is a message that resonates,” he said to a question about the threat of leaving Kansas City. “But I answer that question with, ‘This is my hometown.’”

The club could alter their proposal to voters but it didn’t seem as though Sherman had a strong appetite for that in the wake of yesterday’s results. “There is no redo of this campaign,” said a joint letter from Sherman and Chiefs chairman and CEO Clark Hunt. “This is not going back on the ballot in November. There is no plan B.”

Per the reports from Skretta and Hendricks, voters were against the plan for various reasons, including the lack of financial details and the potential impact on downtown businesses, while some felt the money could be better spent on other priorities like affordable housing or public transportation. The Royals also initially proposed two possible spots for relocation, one on the eastern part of the downtown and the other in Clay County, Missouri, across the Missouri River. They eventually scrapped both of those and settled on a different downtown neighborhood known as the Crossroads, but the plans for that site were still considered to be lacking in detail.

Kauffman Stadium opened in 1973 and is the sixth-oldest of the 30 stadiums in Major League Baseball. Fenway Park opened in 1912, the Cubs began playing in Wrigley Field in 1916, Dodgers Stadium opened in 1962, Angel Stadium in 1966 and the A’s began their tenure at the Oakland Coliseum in 1968. Assuming the A’s successfully move to Las Vegas in the coming years as planned, the Royals will move up to fifth on that list.

The current lease for both the Royals and Chiefs runs through January 31, 2031. The Royals had planned to move into their new stadium for the start of the 2028 season but it’s possible this setback may force them to change that target.

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