Chiefs, Royals hit by stadium tax veto

The Royals’ proposal for an East Village ballpark

Featured image credit: Kansas City Royals/Populous

Jackson County executive Frank White has vetoed a ruling that would have placed a 3/8-cent sales tax renewal on an April ballot, with the move potentially impacting the future of the NFL’s Kansas City Chiefs and Major League Baseball’s Kansas City Royals in the county.

Earlier this month, the two teams announced a commitment to remain in Jackson County if voters approve the extension of the 3/8-cent sales tax. The Chiefs and Royals currently play at Arrowhead Stadium and Kauffman Stadium, respectively, with the two venues located next to each other at the Truman Sports Complex.

Both teams’ current lease deals expire in 2031 and the Chiefs have been weighing up the possibility of building a new facility, while the Royals have detailed plans for a new stadium. In August, together with design partner Populous, the Royals issued the first detailed renderings for their two proposed stadium concepts – one of which was in Jackson County.

Tomorrow (Tuesday) marks the deadline for a decision on the stadium tax renewal being put to voters in April. White’s decision to veto the ordinance raises question marks over whether this deadline will be met.

In a news release sent to the Kansas City Star, White said: “This proposed sales tax would generate over $2bn (£1.6bn/€1.8bn) from our residents, yet there is no clear understanding or assurance regarding the teams’ commitments and contributions to the county.

“It’s not a good deal for taxpayers and I cannot support an agreement that is not in their best interest.”

Four county legislators have supported White’s decision, meaning that the nine-member County Legislature will need six votes to override the veto.

Following White’s decision, the Chiefs and Royals released a joint statement to say that they respect the county executive’s veto authority.

The statement added: “We will continue working with the legislators to ensure that this ordinance is on the ballot on April 2 so that Jackson County voters have the opportunity to decide on the extension of the current 3/8-cent sales tax.”

As part of the agreement proposed by the Chiefs and the Royals earlier in the month, the teams agreed to provide more than $200m in new economic benefits to the county over 40 years through a new lease deal.

The teams said the lease agreement would alleviate Jackson County’s obligation to pay stadium insurance premiums as well as the park levy to the teams. The Chiefs and the Royals committed to providing the county with significant additional benefits by paying for insurance coverages for their respective facilities, and for the extension term of the Chiefs’ lease and new term of the Royals’ lease.

According to the teams, this would result in cost savings to Jackson County of approximately $80m to $100m over the course of the extended and new term of the leases.

A new stadium for the Royals in Jackson County’s East Village would have a capacity of 34,500 to 35,000 fixed seats. The project would consist of a ballpark anchoring a 27-acre development close to the Power & Light District, where the T-Mobile Center arena already exists.

The Royals have targeted Opening Day of the 2028 MLB season for a new ballpark to be delivered. The team has maintained that a new ballpark is required, as opposed to renovation of Kauffman Stadium.