A Missouri House committee heard testimony Monday evening on a bill that would extend annual state appropriations for the Truman Sports Complex and the Kansas City Convention Center, better known as Bartle Hall. Without action from legislators, the funding expires this year.
The state has contributed $3 million for operations at the Truman Sports Complex each year since 1990. The legislation would extend the funding until the state’s 2030 fiscal year, which happens to be when the leases for the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium and Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium expire.
“For the state, it's a significant return on their investment,” said Jim Rowland, executive director of the Jackson County Sports Complex Authority. “They contribute or invest $3 million in the complex. And then direct taxes alone, in 2017, we collected almost $27 million dollars for the state of Missouri.”
Rowland said both teams have heavily invested in the facilities, especially after the leases were renegotiated in 2006. Jackson County would have to provide the $3 million in funding if the state elects not to renew the agreement.
The bill also includes $2 million for Bartle Hall, which hosts large conventions in Kansas City.
The House bill, sponsored by Republican Rep. Jon Patterson of Independence, would add $6 million in yearly funding for improvements at the Enterprise Center in St. Louis. The state has not previously contributed to operations at the facility, officials said. Without the funding, the arena’s operators said they run the risk of losing big events like the NCAA Wrestling Championships to other cities.
“There are significant events that we could have been in better position for, or would have bid for, had the building been in better shape,” said Frank Viverito, president of the St. Louis Sports Commission.
No one testified against the bill during the House Economic Development Committee hearing, but several lawmakers questioned officials about how the money would be spent.
“This process will never stop, because every five to 10 years, the building will always need work,” said Democratic Rep. Chris Carter of St. Louis. “A lot of money could be used a lot of places in St. Louis City.”
A similar bill, sponsored by Republican Sen. Mike Cierpiot of Lee’s Summit, is awaiting a vote on the Senate floor.
Samuel King is the Missouri government and politics reporter at KCUR 89.3. Follow him on Twitter: @SamuelKingNews