On Wednesday, Bob Fescoe with 610 Sports dropped a bombshell that his sources suggest the Kansas City Royals and Kansas City Chiefs could be playing ball outside of Jackson County. Now that’s a vague statement considering that opens the door for some interesting interpretations and possible destinations for the local sports teams, but why are we here again?
Whenever an NFL or MLB Franchise starts talking about a new stadium, fans get upset, local governments tighten their belts and politicians get nervous with one eye toward re-election, which skews their sense of good faith negotiations. Sad to say Politics rules sports and that’s never going to change, especially in Kansas City.
The latest rumors have both the Kansas City Royals and Kansas City Chiefs, so disgusted with the lack of progress with Jackson County on the extension of the 1/3 cent sales tax, both franchises are starting to look elsewhere to build their new sports cathedrals.
The Royals have made it clear they are moving. They’ve been vacillating between North Kansas City and two sites in downtown Kansas City that fall within the Jackson County boundaries. However, local legislators, mostly former Royals player, Frank White has been stonewalling the process and drawing the ire of everyone involved, including local politicians.
I don’t care where the Royals end up. I’ve always maintained that Owner, John Sherman has a near-impossible task of building a winning team again in Kansas City, and certainly playing politics within the self-serving Jackson County government, has crippled his future endeavors on and off the field.
To change that perception, Sherman must hire a Jack Steadman type who understands the local political agenda that has ruled Jackson County politics since both teams moved to the Truman Sports Complex. I say this with no malice toward Sherman, but even if Major League Baseball gives the Royals a significant loan, something allegedly promised, is he surrounded by enough savvy people to get the deal he wants?
On the flip side, the Kansas City Chiefs hold all the cards. They can renovate Arrowhead, they can build a new dome structure next to Arrowhead, regardless of when the Royals move or the Chiefs can simply build a new dome stadium in KCK at the Legends.
To stay, both teams need the sales tax to be extended. That remains the biggest obstacle. All parties want the vote done in April and not November amidst a Presidential election.
As I’ve been told, because of the delay tactics by Frank White, it’s nearly impossible as we head toward December, that legislators can get the stadium vote on the ballot in April 2024. That leaves both franchises no choice but to look elsewhere.
So let’s assume Sherman moves the team to North Kansas City, which would be nearly impossible considering their financial inadequacies, but somehow gets it done putting pressure on Jackson County. In that case, it will fall on city leaders to find a solution.
Hampering things is the legislators are set to take their winter break on December 6th. If they go into recess without moving the needle on negotiating terms for an agreement with the Chiefs and Royals, and if they can swing a hail marry for an April vote that must be submitted before January 21st, 2024, perhaps there is hope.
At the end of this drama, it boils down to Missouri Governor, Mike Parson who will leave office next year, and Kansas Governor, Laura Kelly who holds the keys to which teams end up in Kansas. Parsons is complex but I think he’ll lean toward helping the Chiefs any way he can. After all, the state lost one NFL franchise when the Rams moved to Los Angeles. Thus, if he cares about legacy, he’ll make the Chiefs happy with large chunks of cash and less red tape.
In my view, the Royals’ move to North Kansas City makes sense for many reasons. Secondly, their stadium design, north of the river is vastly superior to the one planned for downtown Kansas City, but again how are they going to pay for it?
The Chiefs want to build a Domed Palace for their King, Patrick Mahomes. So, anything less than Sofi Stadium in Los Angeles or Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas in Kansas or Missouri, would not be fit for an organization in the infancy stages of their own NFL dynasty.
If the Chiefs move to Kansas City Kansas, they’d have a state-of-the-art domed stadium, a new practice facility, a self-standing Hall of Fame building, and at least one, if not two Casinos attached to the stadium with Chiefs-themed shops and restaurants, driving up their value. Further, they’d be hosting Super Bowls, Final Fours, the best musicians in the world, and have an outside shot of getting the NFL Combines, when those start getting rotated like the NFL Draft.
The bottom line Chiefs fans in Missouri will be mad if the team moves to Kansas but that’s the price of success. I believe Clark Hunt prefers to stay at the Truman Sports Complex, and if they can retrofit the stadium with a dome structure, perhaps something like the retractable covering in the Frankfurt Stadium, that would be the preference.
However, with the World Cup playing matches at Arrowhead in the summer of 2026, the lower bowl will need a makeover to create enough space for the soccer field. So, do they want to deal with two potential renovations at Arrowhead?
For the Royals, if I were them, I’d go to Johnson County and build their Baseball development project somewhere in Overland Park, Lenexa, or Olathe, instead of engaging with Jackson County.
Time will tell what happens, but people are getting nervous and upset. Generally, that’s not a good combination but the Chiefs remain the kings of Kansas City sports and don’t have to carry the Royals any longer. They have the freedom to do whatever they want.