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Chiefs and Royals could move to Kansas if stadium talks fail, Jackson County lawmaker warns

Members of the Kansas City Royals' grounds crew work off the field in preparation for the 2023 baseball season Wednesday, March 29, 2023, at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri.
Charlie Riedel
Associated Press
Abarca, who chairs the county’s Stadium Improvements Committee, told KCUR’s Up To Date the Royals — and Chiefs — were both made offers to move to neighboring Kansas.

Reports have emerged that a site in Kansas City's Crossroads is being considered for a Royals stadium, but is time running out to make a deal? Jackson County Legislator Manny Abarca IV told KCUR’s Up To Date that both the Royals and Chiefs are making "serious considerations for a move to the Kansas side."

The location of the new Kansas City Royals stadium has never been so uncertain.

After missing their self-imposed September deadline to decide on a location, the Royals released a statement that said they are "more confident than ever that a world-class ballpark and surrounding district for entertainment, retail and housing will build on our region’s momentum."

The team is deciding between a downtown, Jackson County location and one across the river in Clay County, and last week, a third location re-emerged as a contender: downtown Kansas City, on the space of the former Kansas City Star building.

However, Jackson County 1st District Legislator Manny Abarca IV says he worries that Kansas City may have missed its shot to secure the stadium.

Abarca, who chairs the county’s Stadium Improvements Committee, told KCUR’s Up To Date that the Royals — and Chiefs — were both made offers to move to neighboring Kansas.

“We have heard from direct sources that there are serious considerations for a move to the Kansas side,” he said.

Abarca explained the future locations of the two teams are being negotiated in tandem, and Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas said on X he's concerned Jackson County will lose the Chiefs over this.

Abarca believes the possibility of Kansas City, Missouri, losing both of its sports teams is very real and comes from a lack of trust between county leaders and the teams.

“It's very hard to make a real deal of any sort when there's no trust and belief that we can get this done,” he said.

Referring to Jackson County Executive Frank White Jr., Abarca said “there's an open door always for the executive. It's whether or not he walks through it.”

KCUR has repeatedly reached out to White's office for an interview, but has yet to hear back.

“The reality right now is it seems that there are individual personality issues, not only at the executive side and staff but also within the legislature," Abarca said. "This posturing and positioning of, you know, whose fault is it going to be when something implodes?”

Abarca thinks negotiators should start by signing a non-disclosure agreement to avoid confusion over inaccurate information being leaked to the public.

If Jackson County can’t make a deal with the Royals by this December, Abarca says it’s unlikely the three-eighths cent sales tax to fund the stadium will make it onto the ballot come April.

“If we were not able to secure two major league teams that have been here that voters have supported for already nearly 25 years… we're all going to look like terrible elected officials,” Abarca said.

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When I host Up To Date each morning at 9, my aim is to engage the community in conversations about the Kansas City area’s challenges, hopes and opportunities. I try to ask the questions that listeners want answered about the day’s most pressing issues and provide a place for residents to engage directly with newsmakers. Reach me at steve@kcur.org or on Twitter @stevekraske.
Claudia Brancart is an Up To Date producer for KCUR 89.3. She graduated from Pitzer College in Los Angeles where she majored in World Literature and Studio Art. You can reach her at claudiab@kcur.org.
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