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Design & Development

Royals Park vision unveiled as site decision beckons

Main Image: East Village

Images: Kansas City Royals/Populous

Main Image: East Village

Images: Kansas City Royals/Populous

Kansas City Royals and design partner Populous have issued the first detailed renderings for their two new stadium concepts, as the Major League Baseball (MLB) franchise seeks to select a site for the venture next month.

Royals chairman and CEO, John Sherman, last month said the team would make a call on a site for its proposed new “world-class ballpark” in late September. The Royals in June narrowed down their search for a location to two sites, as the franchise aims to give its current home base the “best shot” to retain the team.

The team confirmed the two sites under consideration are firstly in its current base of Jackson County at a site in the East Village near the downtown loop; and secondly a North Kansas City site in Clay County, which has a smaller tax base but also more space available for a potential ballpark village-style development.

Up to now, only general renderings were available of a new stadium, but the Royals yesterday (Tuesday) issued a set of images for both potential sites, along with economic data for the projects. For both sites, the Royals have projected that the development would cost more than $2bn (£1.57bn/€1.85bn).

This would be split roughly 50/50 between the stadium and a mixed-use development, with the majority of this to come from investors and the team’s ownership group. With the team seeking around $1bn in public tax dollars and city and state financial commitment, the Royals are proposing to extend the 3/8th-cent sales tax in Jackson County, which Sherman believes would provide $300m to $350m each for the Royals and NFL franchise the Kansas City Chiefs.

The Royals’ current home, Kauffman Stadium, forms part of the Truman Sports Complex, which also includes GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium, which houses the Chiefs. The NFL team is also currently weighing up its stadium options. Under the current lease agreement with Jackson County, which for both teams expires in 2030-31, a 3/8th-cent sales tax goes toward the upkeep of facilities. For a move to North Kansas City in Clay County, the Royals would seek a similar arrangement.

A new stadium in either location would have 34,500 to 35,000 fixed seats, with space to accommodate a further 3,500 fans through a standing-room only experience. The renderings come under the banner of ‘Royals Park’, with Sherman stating the team will seek a means to honour Ewing Kauffman, the team’s founder and first owner, for whom Kauffman Stadium is named.

East Village

Said to be the Royals’ preferred location, East Village would consist of a ballpark anchoring a 27-acre development close to the Power & Light District, where the T-Mobile Center arena already exists. Included in the renderings is the ballpark, along with team offices in centre field, a hotel/conference venue, an event plaza for a 4,000-capacity entertainment venue outside the ballpark and retail shops and restaurants.

“It’s a very dense development,” Earl Santee, a senior principal and global chair of Populous, said, according to the team’s official website. “It will allow us to fill in really the empty part of downtown. Its purpose would be to attract local businesses and let them thrive at this location. While there may be residential and other retail, it will have a commercial focus.

“It’s quite a bold vision of what could happen in downtown Kansas City. It’s important that we, in this development, integrate it into the district and downtown. It’s intended to harmonise with the Power and Light district and existing downtown development.”

Santee said the ballpark would be located in a way that would allow people from the outside to look inside the gates to see what’s taking place.

North Kansas City

The second location is a 90-acre tract across the Missouri River in Clay County, giving the Royals greater ability to develop commercial and residential properties.

The development includes the ballpark in the middle of the district, along with a hotel and exhibition centre in the outfield. Two bridges would take guests directly from the hotel into the ballpark, and there is also a plaza area in between the exhibition centre and ballpark.

The renderings also include a 4,000-foot performance venue and retail entertainment, as well as housing above that. “Our purpose would be to activate that district with housing and other things, but the real main focus of its development will be residential,” Santee said.

“We’re trying to transform a district. Trying to create a district by giving it a place and substance to its development. The idea is to bring a lot of people to North Kansas City that would love to work and live there.”

The Royals are targeting Opening Day of the 2028 MLB season for a new ballpark to be delivered. In December, the Royals maintained that a new ballpark is required, as opposed to renovation of Kauffman Stadium, while stating they were committed to remaining in Kansas City. The previous month saw Sherman announce that the team had identified several sites to develop a proposed $2bn downtown ballpark and mixed-use development that would be the largest public-private project in Kansas City history.

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.