Both Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas and Jackson County Executive Frank White Jr. said they are open to discussions with Royals ownership after the team said Tuesday it is exploring options to possibly leave Kauffman Stadium for a new downtown ballpark when their lease expires a decade from now.
At the end of a news conference called to announce some changes in the team’s front office, John Sherman, the team’s primary owner, said the Royals are conducting an internal process in an effort to evaluate their options. Any new ballpark, he acknowledged, would likely require a taxpayer subsidy. But community betterment would figure into any decision on a new stadium.
“We need to have a positive impact on the quality of life for our citizens in Kansas City with a particular focus on those underrepresented parts of our community,” Sherman said.
In a text message to The Star, Lucas said “we look forward to more discussions” with Sherman and the Royals organization.
White likewise said he was looking forward to a dialogue with the team, noting in a prepared statement that as a young man he helped build what was then known as Royals Stadium prior to the start of his 18-year career as the team’s second baseman.
Despite his fondness for the team’s current home, White said he was open to the possibility of the Royals moving from the county-owned Truman Sports Complex to downtown.
“As I have said from day one, we have a responsibility to ensure the county is using the tax dollars entrusted to us by our residents as effectively and efficiently as possible. Part of that responsibility is being open to opportunities to improve the impact our investments are making in the community, including a potential downtown stadium.”
White went onto say he has “been truly impressed by the thoughtful approach that John Sherman and other members of the Royals’ ownership group are taking. During our discussions, Mr. Sherman has made it clear that any decisions the team makes will be driven by the impact they will have on our community, in particular areas that have been historically underserved.”
In a written statement, Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce said, Sherman’s willingness to be transparent about the team’s plans are commendable.
“We especially appreciate the decision-making process he explained in today’s news conference, particularly his commitment to a final decision being based on the positive impact on our community, especially the focus on underrepresented communities. We look forward to learning more as the process moves forward.”
Councilwoman Melissa Robinson said Kansas City has continually faced with the challenge of defining and investing in the growth and economic development. The financing and the location of new downtown stadium are critical if the project is to move forward.
“Yes, a downtown stadium is an exciting proposition,” Robinson said in a text message to The Star. “Forward movement on this idea will require widespread public support.
“It’s imperative that transformative projects remediate blight in historically disinvested communities without displacing longtime residents. What excites people most is the ability to live in decent, affordable housing with a living wage.”