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With time running out, Kansas City Royals owner promises that a community deal is 'close'

A man wearing a suit talks at a podium. Four other people are seated behind him listening.
Carlos Moreno
KCUR 89.3
Kansas City Royals' majority owner John Sherman, left, addresses an audience at a public community meeting in February 2023 about a new downtown ballpark

Royals owner John Sherman said the team is negotiating multiple agreements ahead of the April 2 Jackson County vote on a sales tax to help finance a new downtown ballpark.

The Kansas City Royals organization is working on multiple fronts to finalize agreements before the April 2 vote on a 40-year sales tax that will help finance a new downtown ballpark.

Among the balls still up in the air, the team’s owner told Up To Date, are a lease agreement with the Jackson County Sports Complex Authority; a property tax revenue neutrality agreement with Kansas City Public Schools; and community benefits agreements with Jackson County and Crossroads Neighborhood Association.

The agreements encompass concerns such as neighborhood safety, housing accessibility, benefits for stadium workers, resources for nearby underserved neighborhoods and environmental sustainability.

Sherman says he believes the agreements will be finished by the April 2 vote but says if not, the Royals will send a “very detailed memo of understanding” and provide final documents later.

Jackson County voters are being asked to pay a 3/8-cent sales tax for 40 years to help finance the new ballpark and extensive renovations for Arrowhead Stadium, home of the Chiefs football team. The sales tax is the same amount as one already in place to finance upkeep of Kauffman Stadium and Arrowhead Stadium.

The Royals ownership group has said it will invest at least $1 billion in private funding to the $2 billion-plus ballpark and development district project.

Sherman said remaining in Kansas City is a priority for the Royals’ local ownership. But the team has said in statements over the last few weeks that it doesn’t intend to stay at Kauffman Stadium once its current lease expires in 2031.

“We're going to be willing to stretch and go the extra mile and do what it takes to make sure this team stays here but also make sure we can put up a winning product on the field,” Sherman told Up To Date.

“I'm kind of heads down right now on getting this thing across the finish line April 2 and I know that if that doesn’t happen, we’re going to have other options to consider.”

Regarding the Royals and Chiefs, he said, “These are big businesses they have to sustain themselves with revenues but they’re also community assets and as it relates to the Royals, our core business is to win baseball games…But it’s also to make sure we use this brand and this platform to do good things in the community.”

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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.
As a producer for Up To Date, my goal is to inform our audience by curating interesting and important conversations with reliable sources and individuals directly affected by a topic or issue. I strive for our program to be a place that hosts impactful conversations, providing our audience with greater knowledge, intrigue, compassion and entertainment. Contact me at elizabeth@kcur.org or on Twitter at @er_bentley_ruiz.
Isabella is the spring 2024 intern for KCUR News. An Iowa native, she recently graduated from the University of Georgia, where she studied anthropology and environmental design and was part of the UGA Asian American Journalists Association. Email her at luui@kcur.org
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