Design & Development

Royals targeting $2bn ballpark district

Kansas City Royals chairman and CEO, John Sherman, has said the Major League Baseball (MLB) franchise has identified several sites to develop a proposed $2bn (£1.68bn/€1.92bn) downtown ballpark and mixed-use development that would be the largest public-private project in Kansas City history.

Sherman, who acquired the Royals with a group of investors in 2019, provided an update on the plans in an open letter to fans yesterday (Tuesday). In September 2021, Sherman confirmed that the Royals were considering a move to downtown Kansas City, with the team conducting an internal process to evaluate its options of where to play.

Sherman said yesterday: “As you may already know, it’s become challenging to maintain The K (Kauffman Stadium). When its current lease with Jackson County concludes at the end of this decade, it will be 60 years old.

“The renovations required at The K to achieve our objectives would cost as much or more than the price tag to develop a new ballpark. A new home would be a far better investment, both for local taxpayer dollars already supporting our facility, and for the Kansas City community.

“A year ago, we announced that we were undertaking a diligent, deliberate, and transparent process to explore the possibility of a new ballpark district. We said we would look at various locations across the city that will allow for residential, commercial, and community components. We are excited to now share that we have several leading locations under close consideration, both in downtown Kansas City and close to it. Each site offers unique opportunities.”

The Royals have played at Kauffman Stadium since it opened in 1973 and the team’s current lease at the venue expires in 2031. Kauffman Stadium forms part of the Truman Sports Complex, which also includes GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium, home of the NFL’s Kansas City Chiefs. The Chiefs are also currently weighing up their stadium options.

To accomplish their vision, Sherman said the Royals’ plans will be contingent on continuing their public-private partnership and investment with multiple local jurisdictions and the State of Missouri. He added: “Underpinning all our planning are two guiding principles. First, we would not ask Jackson County citizens to contribute any more tax dollars than you already do today. Second, we want to take these steps together, with your input and engagement, as a community.”

Concerning the vision for the scheme, Sherman said: “Our vision is to not just build a facility that does justice to the spirit of The K. We want to construct a world-class experience – a new ballpark district and all that comes with it – one that is woven into the fabric of our city, can host events and concerts, and boosts our local economy. We also envision incorporating our Kansas City fountains, the Royals’ crown and our team’s rich traditions and history in a new ballpark district.

“The proposed ballpark district would become a new home for Royals fans far and wide – both inside a state-of-the-art ballpark and in the revitalised surrounding area. We will marry the traditions of The K with a better experience for our fans.

“With a mixture of public and private investment, including our own intention to invest hundreds of millions of dollars directly into the ballpark and the ballpark district, the long-term vision remains a work-in-progress.

“We envision local restaurants and shops, office spaces, hotels, and a variety of housing opportunities accessible for Kansas Citians from all walks of life. Affordable housing options will be important to our efforts. We would also work closely with our local transportation leaders to ensure public transportation options accommodate a new ballpark district.”

Yesterday’s announcement came complete with initial design concept renderings. In the next several months, Sherman said the Royals will embark on a listening tour throughout the region to discuss the franchise’s plan, vision and the economic benefits with the local community, partners and political leaders.

He added that the team would “begin in earnest” a discussion with local, state, and federal officials regarding possible additional sources of funds to help make the project a reality.