Royals downtown stadium vote fails

Question 1 is defeated.

Voters soundly rejected Question 1 at the polls on Tuesday, turning back an effort by the Royals to build a downtown stadium. The proposal would have extended for 40 years the 3/8 cent sales tax currently used to pay for renovations to the Truman Sports Complex that was set to expire in 2031, in order to fund a $1 billion ballpark at the site of the Kansas City Star printing press across from T-Mobile center, and renovations to Arrowhead Stadium.

In unofficial results to the Jackson County Election Board, the “No” vote with 58 percent of the vote, to just 42 percent for “Yes”. In the city of Kansas City alone, Question 1 failed by a margin of 58-42. The Kansas City Election Board reported a 24 percent turnout, very high for an April election.

The Royals still have a lease to stay at Kauffman Stadium through 2030. The team has made clear they have no intention of staying there after that, citing structural damage to the stadium that will cost over $1 billion to repair. The team could continue to negotiate with Jackson County on a new stadium plan or even a new site within the county. Clay County leaders have also proposed bringing the team across the river to North Kansas City, an idea that could be revived.

The team faced stiff opposition from Jackson County executive Frank White, a former All-Star second baseman with the club. Various community groups also opposed the plan including Good Jobs Coalition, KC Tenants, and Sunrise Movement KC. Opponents argued the plan did not have enough specifics, particularly how the ballpark would be funded other than the $300-350 million the sales tax would cover. White also argued for more time to negotiate since there are still six years left on the lease. Community groups argued for a better Community Benefits Agreement and criticized the displacement of businesses in the Crossroads at the proposed stadium site.

The plan to build a downtown stadium was marked by miscues. There were delays in picking a stadium site. The north Crossroads proposal quickly became the favorite out of nowhere after the East Village plan had been the favored site. The team hand-waved concerns over parking, putting fans accustomed to a car-centric stadium complex at unease. The north Crossroads site also has many more occupants than the largely vacant East Village site, making displacement and community impact a concern for Crossroads businesses.

The Royals aren’t moving tomorrow, but their future is a bit more cloudy now. Hopefully they can go back to the drawing board and can put together a much better proposal that is good for the team, good for taxpayers, and good for the community.

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Title: Royals downtown stadium vote fails
Author: Max Rieper

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