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Design & Development

Royals weighing up ‘four or five’ sites for new ballpark

Featured image credit: Kansas City Royals

The Kansas City Royals have said they have narrowed their search for a site for a proposed new ballpark down to “four or five” destinations, while the Major League Baseball (MLB) franchise has also entered into a technology partnership for its current home.

The Royals yesterday (Tuesday) held the first of two community meetings planned for this week, in an effort to give further information on their current thinking. The first of these meetings in December saw the Royals maintain that a new ballpark is required, as opposed to renovation of Kauffman Stadium, while stating they are committed to remaining in Kansas City.

A November announcement from chairman and CEO, John Sherman, stated that several sites had been identified to develop a proposed $2bn (£1.62bn/€1.83bn) downtown ballpark and mixed-use development that would be the largest public-private project in Kansas City history.

The main takeaway from yesterday’s gathering was the revelation that a previously reported 14 sites under consideration has now been considerably slimmed down. While not offering any specifics on locations, Royals chief operating officer and senior vice-president, Brooks Sherman, said: “We continue to evaluate four or five sites, but we’re on this listening tour to hear from you as to what may be important.

“We look forward to making this determination after the completion of our community listening tour.”

Populous has been engaged for the project and the Royals have outlined that it would cost more to renovate Kauffman Stadium ($1.072bn) than it would to develop a new ballpark ($1.005bn). Renovations are also projected to take a further two years to complete, with 70% of the stadium needing to be replaced.

The new stadium is expected to have around 35,000 seats with a capacity of 38,000, including standing views of the game. The Royals expect the projected $2bn total cost to be split roughly 50/50 between the stadium and the mixed-use development, with the majority of this to come from investors and the team’s ownership group.

John Sherman acquired the Royals with a group of investors in 2019. In September 2021, he 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.

John Sherman said yesterday: “Three simple truths will guide this diligent, deliberate and transparent process we’re in the middle of. One, generating community impact that’s real and measurable. Two, be a catalyst for economic growth that’s also real and measurable. And we’re committed to improve the quality of life in our region with a dedicated focus on underrepresented members of our community – also in a real and measurable way.”

Royals connect with Green Zebra

The Royals have played at Kauffman Stadium since it opened in 1973 and the team’s current lease at the venue expires in 2031. The team has also entered into a strategic partnership with GZ6G Technologies (Green Zebra) to enhance connectivity at Kauffman Stadium.

As a technology partner of the Royals, Green Zebra has obtained sponsorship rights, within the venue, across IPTV and fans’ mobile devices during live games and other events. Using Kauffman Stadium’s proprietary Wi-Fi platform, Green Zebra’s interface will provide fans with quick and secure Internet access on their mobile device, along with relevant messaging, such as food and merchandise discounts and urgent updates such as stadium or security information.

“At Kauffman Stadium, we’re always looking for innovative ways to provide our fans with the best experience possible,” said Alex Schulte, vice-president of corporate partnerships for the Kansas City Royals.

“We are excited to announce GZ6G as our proud technology partner and are looking forward to collaborating with them to help us make impactful decisions here at the Royals. This partnership will ensure the best Wi-Fi connection for our fans while allowing our organisation to reach more people than ever before.”

Green Zebra’s Wi-Fi portal technology integration with the Royals ensures brand partners will receive location-based, in-venue exposure to consumers while seeking to satisfy the Royals’ desire for increased revenue through sponsorship. Green Zebra and the Royals will work hand in hand to manage, operate, and sell sponsorship and advertising assets.

“Our partnership with the Kansas City Royals signals an important start for us and the team,” said Coleman Smith, CEO of Green Zebra.

“Clearly there are benefits for both parties, but this also opens doors for more MLB teams in addition to the NFL, NHL, NBA, NCAA, and other professional leagues to get in on the ground floor of smart-stadium technology.

“Over the next several years, this form of marketing will be prevalent in most stadiums and preparing for this now positions sports leagues as industry innovation leaders. It also shows consideration for fans and their experiences. Smart-stadium connectivity means keeping fans engaged and informed with relevant promotions, real-time updates, and urgent information.”