In Independence, Kansas City Royals make final pitch for a new downtown baseball district | KCUR 89.3

The Kansas City Royals hosted the final stop on their community listening tour on Wednesday about their proposal to abandon Kauffman Stadium and build a downtown ballpark and the surrounding entertainment district.

Royals majority owner John Sherman, team leader and an architectural consultant, explained to an audience at the Midwest Genealogy Center in Independence, Missouri how the benefits of a downtown stadium would economically impact the entire metro area.

Wednesday’s session, the latest of three community listening opportunities, was the only stop outside of Kansas City, Missouri, where concerns focused primarily on the potential impact of the proposed stadium on housing affordability.

The eastern Jackson County audience took the opportunity to instead ask what would be lost if the team vacated the Truman Sports Complex.

“We know where ‘The K’ is today and how close it is,” said Brooks Sherman, Royals chief operating officer. But the team’s delegates focused their responses more on the positive impact of a new downtown presence.

A man, seated in a row of chairs in an audience, holds up an index card in his right hand, waiting for someone to take it out.

Carlo Moreno


KCUR 89.3

Larry Penrose was at the Midwest Genealogy Center in Independence on Wednesday to question Royals officials about their plan to develop a baseball district in or around downtown Kansas City.

Sherman said the new stadium and surrounding area could attract more than 2,000,000 fans a year.

“To give those fans — whether they’re in Kansas City or they’re from the opposing team — an area with a stadium and a development around it,” he said, “that really shines a bright, very positive way on the entire region.” .”

Local businesses affected

Former Independence Mayor Eileen Weir said most of the city’s hotel tax revenue is a direct result of the royals’ home games.

While she doesn’t expect that to change when the royals move downtown, Weir said the real impact of a move would be on small, local businesses.

“Dixon’s Chili, Hi-Boy, V’s Restaurant – those places and even the QuikTrip, the gas stations and supermarkets,” Weir said. “You see people going there before and after a Royals game.”

Others in the audience raised concerns about fundamental questions such as: How much should Jackson County taxpayers pay for the new facility?

Brooks Sherman has not yet been able to give a clear answer. The team’s current development proposal is subject to Jackson County voters extending a ⅜cent sales tax to pay for renovations at the Truman Sports Complex.

“You can’t really put a figure on that today,” he said. “That changes with interest rates. That changes with: How long will the tax be extended?”


Artistic rendering


Kansas City Royals

John Sherman said in an open letter to fans and the community that by 2031, when the current lease expires, the cost of maintaining Kauffman Stadium will be at least as high as the cost of building a new ballpark. Above, an artist’s rendering of a new stadium near downtown Kansas City, Missouri.

Majority owner John Sherman, who has nothing to do with Brooks Sherman, said the royals will be the largest investor in the project.

“To ensure this team thrives in this community for the next 30, 40 or 50 years, we feel like we have a world-class ballpark,” he said. “It creates economic activity 365 days a year and that’s why we’re asking this to be a public partnership.”

As at previous community meetings, John Sherman said the bulk of the funding would come from private sources.

The Royals’ owning team has said that by 2031, when the current lease expires, the cost of maintaining Kauffman Stadium will be at least as high as the cost of building a new ballpark.

The Loss Trends

The team didn’t give Kansas City fans much reason to celebrate in the 2022 season. They finished last in the American League Central with 65 wins and 97 losses.

“We weren’t happy with the results of 2022,” said John Sherman. “Actually, the most disappointing part about it is that we expected to be better.”

The Royals also finished 26th out of 30 teams in total attendance at the stadium. Only Pittsburgh, Tampa Bay, Miami and Oakland were worse.

Many at the meeting noted that business around the stadium thrives even more when the team wins and more fans attend matches.

A man in a suit speaks from a podium on a stage in front of a sign that reads "Midcontinent Library." Four other people are seated to his right.  Spectators sit in front of him on chairs.

Carlo Moreno


KCUR 89.3

Kansas City Royals senior vice president Brooks Sherman, left, and members of the advisory board of majority owner John Sherman spoke Wednesday at the Midwest Genealogy Center.

Loss trends on the field may not help if Jackson County taxpayers are asked to extend the ⅜ cent sales tax, a move that could come as soon as August.

“If it were like that today, I think it would be a big challenge,” said Weir, who has lived in Independence for more than 30 years.

The former mayor said she doesn’t think the royals are providing enough information — particularly about the location the royals eventually choose — to grant that extension.

If voters grant a tax extension this summer, Sherman expects construction to take three years, meaning the Royals could move into a new stadium as early as 2027 at the earliest. The current lease with Jackson County runs through 2031.

Team representatives did not provide a timeline for selecting a site. They’ve narrowed the possibilities down to four or five locations, all downtown.

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