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If voters pass ballpark sales tax, Royals will ask Kansas City and Missouri for $700 million more

A rendering shows a walkway and park connecting the proposed Kansas City Royals stadium in the Crossroads and the T-Mobile Center downtown.
Kansas City Royals
A rendering shows a walkway and park connecting the proposed Kansas City Royals stadium in the Crossroads and the T-Mobile Center downtown.

The Royals are asking Jackson County voters to sign off on a $1 billion sales tax to pay for a new stadium in the Crossroads. But even then, they’ll need another $700 million to make it happen. That’s where the team expects Kansas City and Missouri taxpayers to come in.

The proposed extension of Jackson County’s sales tax won’t be enough to pay for a new downtown Kansas City Royals stadium.

So the team is in conversation with city officials and Missouri Gov. Mike Parson to fill a $700 million funding gap with taxpayer dollars from Kansas City and the state.

On April 2, Jackson County voters will be asked to commit upward of $1 billion to a proposed baseball stadium in the Crossroads Arts District. Dozens of absentee ballots have already been cast, but the financial details of the project remain unclear.

Voters had that kind of detail in 2006 when Jackson County last cast ballots on a sales tax to subsidize the Chiefs and Royals. But this time, those details won’t be made public until after the vote is complete.

“We don’t have the same level of detail as we had in 2006,” Jackson County Administrator Troy Schulte told The Beacon.

If approved, the 3/8-cent sales tax extension would generate more than $2 billion over 40 years. The Chiefs and Royals would split the money 50-50, giving each team $27 million a year.

The Chiefs money will pay for debt obligations, maintenance and repairs for Arrowhead Stadium. The proposed renovation of that existing stadium will be paid for with $300 million from the team, as well as $500 million split between Missouri tax dollars and, possibly, other public sources.

As for the Royals, the $1 billion in sales tax money would go toward the new stadium. The team would be on its own to raise money for its surrounding ballpark district.

But that $1 billion will only cover a third of the stadium’s costs.

Before the Royals can use the county sales tax money, the county must still pay off nearly $200 million in debt on the Truman Sports Complex. Plus, because the Royals plan to take out a loan to finance construction costs up front, much of the sales tax revenue will have to pay for interest.

That leaves somewhere between $250 million and $350 million that can actually be used to cover stadium expenses — and leaves more than two-thirds of the stadium’s cost unaccounted for.

Who will pay for the new Royals stadium?

The last time that Jackson County voters OK’d a sales tax to fund the Chiefs and Royals in 2006, local officials had a financial document called a “sources and uses statement.”

That financial plan outlined how much money would come from the teams and how much would come from the state, the city and the county.

A spokesperson for Kansas City said that the city manager and finance director do not have a copy of a comparable document for the 2024 measure. Neither do Mayor Quinton Lucas, Jackson County Executive Frank White Jr., county legislators or the Jackson County Sports Complex Authority.

That, Schulte told The Beacon, marks one of the main reasons why White does not support the 2024 sales tax measure.

Schulte said the Royals plan to fill that gap with money from Kansas City and Missouri, but without this document, the specifics remain unclear.

When the Royals were considering a stadium north of the Missouri River, their sources and uses statement listed an expected $350 million contribution from North Kansas City, $580 million from Clay County and $350 million from Missouri.

Parson said in a statement that Missouri will not finalize any financial commitment until after the April 2 vote.

The team confirmed to The Beacon that conversations with Kansas City officials are ongoing.

When asked how much money the city was planning to contribute and how it would be funded in the budget, a representative from Lucas’ office said the city hadn’t received any requests from the Royals.

This story was originally published by the Kansas City Beacon, a fellow member of the KC Media Collective.

Josh Merchant is The Kansas City Beacon's local government reporter.
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