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Chiefs unveil development on site of Royals Stadium ahead of April 2 tax vote

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(The Center Square) – Kansas City’s professional baseball and football teams are showing Jackson County voters plans for new and renovated stadiums before they vote April 2 on a 40-year sales tax, beginning in 2031, to fund the projects.

The National Football League’s Kansas City Chiefs revealed a vision for a “complete reimagination and renovation” of Arrowhead Stadium on Wednesday, weeks after winning their second consecutive Super Bowl championship. The renderings show a parking lot on the site of the current stadium of Major League Baseball’s Kansas City Royals. Earlier this month, the Royals unveiled plans for a new stadium to be built downtown.

The existing stadiums were built in the early 1970s in the Truman Sports Complex, approximately nine miles east of downtown. The 2026 World Cup will be played at Arrowhead Stadium which will prevent the start of renovations until 2027 with completion in 2030 or 2031.

“There are many steps to go,” Mark Donovan, president of the Chiefs, said during Wednesday’s press conference. “The first and most important is April 2nd. We need to pass (over) that bridge in order to continue to move on this project.”

Clark Hunt, chairman and chief executive officer of the Chiefs, said his family will contribute $300 million of the $800 million cost of the renovation.

“In the past, the state, city and other government entities (provided funds) and that’s what we look to do going forward,” Donovan said.

Hunt said any cost overruns wouldn’t be paid by public sources.

“The taxpayer’s expense and the state’s expense would be capped,” Hunt said. “Anything that surprises us, which frequently happens on construction projects, would be on our family.”

Both teams are involved in a campaign to pass a three-eighths cents sales tax beginning in 2031 and lasting 40 years to fund the new baseball stadium and renovate the football facility. The current sales tax to fund the stadiums in Jackson County, passed in 2006 and lasting 25 years, also is three-eighths of a cent.

“The sales tax is designed to do exactly what it has done … since 2006,” Donovan said. “It’s going to pay for repair and maintenance of the building. To give you some perspective, last year this organization put $23 million into this building. The taxes are going to cover that. … That’s the first piece of this puzzle.”

The amount of the sales tax revenue for the sports complex was approximately $49 million in 2022, according to the Jackson County annual comprehensive financial report.

In January, both teams pledged to stay in Missouri if voters passed the sales tax extension. The Jackson County Legislature voted to put the sales tax on the ballot, but it was vetoed by County Executive Frank White, who was an outfielder for the Royals. The legislature then voted to override White’s veto to put it on the April 2 ballot.

“This is the most important thing we will have the opportunity to do while we have the privilege of being stewards of this franchise,” John Sherman, chairman and chief executive officer of the Royals, said in a statement announcing plans earlier this month for the new downtown stadium.

The campaign website, yeson1jacksoncounty.com, states the sales tax rate won’t change, but doesn’t provide information on how the amount of tax revenues could increase due to inflation or economic growth.

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