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Chiefs stadium vote, explained: Missouri residents reject tax to fund Arrowhead renovations, Royals ballpark

Kansas City has long been the home of the Chiefs and the Royals, however, a recent vote has potentially thrown the future of both clubs in the city in jeopardy. 

Residents in Jackson County rejected a sales tax measure that would have helped fund major renovations at Arrowhead Stadium, home of the Chiefs, and a new ballpark downtown for the Royals. 

“We’re deeply disappointed as we are steadfast in our belief that Jackson County is better with the Chiefs and the Royals,” Royals owner John Sherman said, per the Associated Press. “As someone whose roots run deep in this town, who has been a dedicated fan and season-ticket holder for both of these teams, and now leading a remarkable ownership group.”

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Chiefs stadium vote, explained

More than 58% of the voters of the tax rejected the plan put forth by the Royals and Chiefs. It would have replaced the current three-eighths of a cent sales tax that has been paying for the maintenance of Truman Sports Complex, which is the home of Kauffman and Arrowhead Stadiums. 

The new tax would have been in place for the next 40 years. 

“We’ve been talking a lot about the democratic process. We respect the process,” Chiefs president Mark Donovan said. “We feel we put forth the best offer for Jackson County. We’re ready to extend the longstanding partnership the teams have enjoyed with this county.”

The current lease at Truman Sports Complex lasts through Jan. 31, 2031. While the Chiefs are hoping to remain at Arrowhead Stadium for the foreseeable future, Sherman has previously stated that the Royals will not play at Kauffman beyond the 2030 MLB season. 

The Royals wanted to use their share of the revenue generated from the tax to help fund a new ballpark in the downtown area of Kansas City, replacing Kauffman Stadium. The project would cost over $2 billion, with the ownership group pledging at least $1 billion of their own money. 

For the Chiefs, the money gained from the tax would have been used to help with renovations at Arrowhead Stadium. The project would be priced at $800 million, with $300 million coming in the form of private money from the Chiefs. 

Missouri residents reject Jackson County ballot item on Chiefs, Royals stadiums

While the news comes as a disappointment to the clubs, it is not overly surprising. Both Sherman and Donovan realized even before the final tally that the proposition was going to fall short of the needed votes. 

A majority of the concerns from residents don’t have to do with the tax itself, but rather the lack of transparency/structure of the proposed plans. The Royals previously unveiled two potential locations for their ballpark district, but missed their own self-imposed deadline to present a concrete plan. The team then announced they had switched gears and picked a different location, however, the latest ballpark renderings were not up to the standard of Kansas City mayor Quinton Lucas. 

“I think everyone has the same mixed feelings,” Deidre Chasteen, a voter from Independence, Missouri, said to the Associated Press. “It’s not that we mind paying the three-eighths-cent sales tax. I think the problem is putting the stadium where it is. We’re saying don’t ruin businesses that have been established down there for years.”

So what does this mean going forward? 

With the Royals adamant about moving on from Kauffman Stadium, the team can continue to make adjustments to its proposed plans, with the hope that the changes brought to the residents of the county are enough to get the vote in their favor.The Chiefs would be able to do the same — adapting their plan for the renovations to appease voters.

However, there are other options for both clubs as well, including ponying up more private money for the investments, or, as a last resort, looking at a different city or state that would be more open to public funding. 

“We would not be willing to sign a lease for another 25 years without the financing to properly renovate and reimagine the stadium,” Chiefs chairman Clark Hunt said before Tuesday’s vote. “The financing puzzle is very important to us to make sure we have enough funds to do everything we’ve outlined.”

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