Kansas seeks to lure Chiefs, Royals from Missouri

Featured image credit: Manica Architecture

The Kansas Legislature has set up a potential battleground with Missouri over the future of the Kansas City Chiefs and Kansas City Royals after passing financial plans to attract the NFL and MLB teams to new stadia across state lines.

The Royals currently play at Kauffman Stadium, while the Chiefs play at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium. The two venues are located next to each other at the Truman Sports Complex in Kansas City, Missouri, but with their lease on the site expiring in January 2031 both teams have recently been planning for the future.

Manica Architecture designs for a potential new home of the Chiefs were presented to Kansas legislators considering a bid to bring the NFL team to their state back in April. In February, the Royals unveiled Populous-designed plans to build a new ballpark and entertainment district in the Crossroads area of Kansas City.

The legislation, yesterday (Tuesday) passed by the House 84-38 and subsequently the Senate 27-8, authorises Kansas to potentially issue Sales Tax and Revenue (STAR) bonds to pay for up to 70% of the cost of stadiums for one or both teams – up from the 50% in current law.

The Kansas City Star said the debt would be repaid over 30 years by a combination of tax revenue from the stadiums and surrounding development, sports gambling revenue and Lottery revenue. As part of the bill, annual Lottery revenues above $71.5m (£56.2m/€66.5m) each year will now be redirected into a fund to help pay off the bonds. This is likely to be worth around $10m per year.

Governor of Kansas, Laura Kelly, is expected to sign or allow the plan the become law without her signature. She said in a statement after yesterday’s vote: “The bipartisan effort to invite the Chiefs and Royals to Kansas shows we’re all-in on keeping our beloved teams in the Kansas City metro.

“Kansas now has the opportunity to become a professional sports powerhouse with the Chiefs and Royals potentially joining Sporting KC as major league attractions, all with robust, revenue-generating entertainment districts surrounding them providing new jobs, new visitors, and new revenues that boost the Kansas economy.”

Kansas’ move comes after residents of Jackson County in Missouri in April resoundingly voted down a sales tax measure that would have helped to fund a new downtown baseball stadium for the Royals and renovations to Arrowhead Stadium.

Speaking yesterday, Kansas City Mayor, Quinton Lucas, said he remains confident the city will retain the teams. He described the Kansas Legislature’s vote as a regrettable violation of the truce in the so-called border war that limited the use of economic incentives to attract businesses across state lines. “We don’t have some exception where anything cool that wasn’t explicitly written is exempted from it,” Lucas said.

In response to yesterday’s news, both teams expressed their support for the legislation and the options it may provide as they continue to explore their stadia situation. The Chiefs said: “We appreciate that leaders in the State of Kansas proactively reached out to us for input on the proposed STAR Bond legislation.

“We support their efforts to expand the existing program and congratulate them on passing the legislation in special session. We look forward to exploring the options this legislation may provide.”

The Royals added: “We’re grateful to the Kansas Legislature for today’s bipartisan action that gives the state a pragmatic tool in which to achieve its economic development goals.

“The Kansas City Royals look forward to additional conversations as we evaluate where we will play baseball in the future. We will always prioritise the best interests of our fans, associates and taxpayers in this process.”