Royals open to new Kansas stadium if lawmakers approve STAR Bonds

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Kansas City Royals confirmed on Saturday morning that the club is open to moving across the state border after Kansas lawmakers proposed new incentives to attract another professional sports team to their state this week.

Kansas lawmakers will consider a STAR Bond package for up to two stadiums during a special session called for June 18 by Governor Laura Kelly where a tax cut package will also be revisited.

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According to the Royals, “As we’ve said since April 2, we must evaluate all options that may be available to us with respect to the new stadium. The Royals need a place to play baseball in the near future and the recent STAR Bond discussions in Kansas provide a path for us to explore.”

These ‘discussions’ follow the effort to amend the STAR Bond’s language, making it more enticing for the Chiefs or the Royals to move to the Sunflower State.

Specifically, Republican and Salina State Senator J.R. Claeys said the STAR Bonds would fund $1.5 billion of the $2 billion development plan to get the Kansas City Chiefs to the state. This makes the bonds more temporarily lucrative and lures the team(s) in with a new stadium, as well as state tax and revenue collection.

Regarding the Royals, the team has been fairly quiet since the failed Jackson County, Missouri stadium sales tax vote in April.

This vote, which lost by 16% — approximately 21,000 votes — would have helped the Kansas City Royals move from Kauffman Stadium to a new downtown ballpark, and would have kept the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium for at least another 25 years.

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When the results were released, Royals Chairman and CEO John Sherman said, “We respect the voters of Jackson County and the results of the election today. We will take some time to reflect on and process the outcome and find a path forward that works for the Royals and our fans.”

Now, two months later, the team’s most recent statement confirmed there could be a jump across the state line, potentially propelling Jackson County representatives to take action with a counter incentive.

However, Democratic Congressman Emanuel Cleaver of the 5th District of Missouri said that he and Kansas Democratic Congresswoman Sharice Davids of the 3rd Congressional District would prefer this not to be a competitive situation with the region’s sports team.

“I guess I can’t blame the people from Kansas wanting the Kansas City Chiefs there,” Congressman Cleaver said.

“I also think that we could do some damage if we’re not careful in vital relationships. I mean we’ve tried to function as one metropolitan area with MARC, the Mid-American Regional Council has done a fantastic job of keeping us together, so I’m not really fired up about… I’d rather be in a war with Minneapolis or Seattle than a community across the river.”

This statement doesn’t mean there aren’t some frustrations amongst Kansas City metro residents and organizations.

Top Kansas lawmakers ask for Chiefs to consider their state

In reference to the STAR Bond revisions, Americans For Prosperity Legislative Director Michael Austin told FOX4 News reporter Jonathan Ketz that he does not want the legislature focusing on reforming the bonds during the legislative special session set for June 18th, even if state lawmakers pass another tax plan first.

According to Austin, a Kansas Legislative Division of Post Audit report filed in August of 2021 showed that 13 of the 16 projects funded with STAR Bonds have not met the Kansas Department of Commerce’s goals.

In contrast, the Department of Commerce’s goals for STAR Bonds to attract 20% of visitors from another state and 30% or more of its visitors from at least 100 miles away were fulfilled. The projects that met those goals were Hutchinson’s Underground Salt Museum, Topeka’s Heartland Park and the Village West Kansas Speedway projects.

“The three that met the two goals tend to be things that are unique projects,” Legislative Post Audit Deputy Post Auditor Kristen Rottinghaus said in an interview with FOX4 Friday. “[They’re] not something that you would find just anywhere, so from that perspective, the Chiefs stadium would be… unique to the region, let’s say.”

Welcome to the City: More Kansas City Royals news on FOX4

Whether Kansas’s STAR Bond revisions will make an enticing enough proposal to secure one of the teams over the state is still up in the air. What isn’t up in the air, though, is the fact that each franchise has confirmed they are seeking out all options, creating a historic dilemma for both teams.

The Chiefs have yet to comment on this issue, but Kansas House and Senate leadership met with team representatives in Topeka recently after inviting them to join the conversation in a letter to CEO and Chairman Clark Hunt.

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