Royals explain concrete cancer issue, fans weigh in on stadium debate

KANSAS CITY, Mo.– Fans like they always do, tailgated outside Kauffman Stadium hours before first pitch on Opening Day for the 2024 Major League Baseball season.

Five days after Opening Day, there will be an interesting stadium sales tax election in Jackson County. It will decide whether the Royals get sales tax money from shoppers to help them build a new ballpark in the East Crossroads. The Chiefs would get money to renovate GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium.

“So, we’ve been tailgating here for about 30 years,” Lee’s Summit resident Clint Cassing said in an interview with FOX4 Thursday. “That’s a private porta potty that we rent every year.”

Casing told FOX4 he doesn’t see the need for a new stadium. He’s already voted ‘no,’ His porta potty said ‘Save the K’ and ‘Vote No.’

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“This Kauffman Stadium’s an iconic stadium. Literally, everybody I talk to from out of town, in town, absolutely love this stadium,” he continued. “I know there’s a theory that there’s allegedly bad concrete here, and the Chiefs have good concrete, and the Royals have bad concrete. I’m going to have to respectfully disagree.”

On February 13, the Royals announced they planned to build their new ballpark in the East Crossroads. At the end of February, the Chiefs released their renderings for what their renovation would look like at Arrowhead.

That day, Chiefs President Mark Donovan said a ‘bad batch’ of concrete was part of the reason the Chiefs are able to renovate while a renovation at Kauffman would be so expensive.

Two days after that news conference, County Executive and Royals Hall of Famer Frank White, who plans to vote no on this issue, called on the teams’ landlords, the Jackson County Sports Complex Authority (JCSCA), to investigate the structural integrity of the stadiums.

Six days later, Royals President of Business Operations Brooks Sherman came to FOX4 to explain why he thought Jackson County voters should say yes April 2.

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Sherman said from a player development standpoint, the team needs a new ballpark to compete with other teams. He also said from a fan amenity and fan experience standpoint, the team needs a new ballpark that compares to the new ones that have recently been built.

FOX4 also asked about the concrete issue.

“They do a study regularly out there, and I think they’re all out on their website to show that this issue exists,” Sherman said of the JCSCA. “Then it gets repaired by the team, and so that evidence is already out there that we do the right work to maintain that stadium. The stadium is safe for our fans, period. It is safe, and the concrete cancer, that’s not new news. That’s been out there for a long time, and we have to replace concrete. That’s part of what we do as part of our responsibility to maintain the stadium and the authority does their report and has that study done to show that, so that exists. It’s not new news. It’s also not the reason we’re leaving. The reason we need a new stadium are the two that I just mentioned, player development, fan amenities and experiences.”

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About 45 minutes before first pitch Thursday, March 28, Crossroads artist Bill Drummond was wearing a stadium costume trying to push the ‘no vote’ right outside the entrance. About 20 minutes later, Kansas City Police Department officers asked him to move just so he wasn’t in the way of fans trying to get in.

Just before 5 p.m. Thursday, FOX4 saw people handing out ‘Vote Yes’ signs to Royals fans leaving Kauffman.

“I just like the stadium here with tailgating,” Independence resident Shawn Jordan said in an interview with FOX4 Thursday before the game. “I think it’s going to be a bigger mess if they have to move the stadium myself.”

Jordan was tailgating with his wife Dana before the game. Both plan to vote no.

“I just agree,” Dana said. “I mean because there goes tailgating. There goes parking. There goes everything.”

Because Kauffman Stadium is near the city of Independence, that entity had a study done in October on the impact a Royals move to downtown Kansas City would have on them. The report showed the team has a $7.4 million annual economic impact on the city. The study showed the city would lose more than $284,000 a year if the Royals ‘relocated.’

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