Chiefs, Royals ponder future after voters reject stadium tax

The Chiefs and Royals are questioning their futures in Kansas City after voters rejected the extension of a sales tax that the teams said would have assured they remain in the area.

Voters in Jackson County, Mo., voted no Tuesday on the ballot measure that would have kept a three-eights-cent sales tax for stadium financing in place for the next 40 years. The measure failed 58.1 percent to 41.9 percent.

The two teams have played at the Truman Sports Complex for more than 50 years — the Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium since 1972 and the Royals at Kauffman Stadium since 1973. The Royals want to build a new downtown stadium, and the Chiefs want to make extensive renovations at Arrowhead.

“We respect the democratic process, we respect the voters of Jackson County and the results of the election,” John Sherman, the Royals’ owner, said Tuesday night. “We’re deeply disappointed, as we are steadfast in our belief that Jackson County is far better off with the Chiefs and the Royals. This is a belief I both hold professionally and personally, as someone whose roots run deep in this town.

“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.”

Approval of the sales tax extension would have helped fund both a new Royals stadium and the Arrowhead improvements.

Sherman has said ownership of the Royals would contribute at least $1 billion to replace Kauffman, the sixth-oldest stadium in baseball. Clark Hunt, owner of the Chiefs, pledged $300 million toward $800 million for upgrades at Arrowhead, the third-oldest in the NFL.

“We’re disappointed,” Chiefs team president Mark Donovan said. “We feel we put forth the best offer for Jackson County. We were ready to extend the longstanding partnership the teams have enjoyed with this county.

“We will do, and look to do, what is in the best interest of our fans and our organization as we move forward.”

A variety of community groups in Kansas City had come out against the proposal, saying the burden was too high on taxpayers and ownership needed to do more.

“Two billion dollars in taxpayers money, man, could do a hell of a lot to develop our community,” said Michael Savwoir, a leader of KC Tenants, speaking to local Fox4 on Tuesday night. “The billionaires don’t finance my follies. Why should I finance theirs?”

Royals ownership previously said the team won’t play at Kauffman Stadium past 2030. It is expected other communities will reach out to both clubs to discuss relocation. Kansas City, Kan., has been floated as a possibility for the Chiefs.

The mayor of Kansas City, Mo., Quinton Lucas, said he is ready to go back to the drawing board with the teams.

“The people of Kansas City and Jackson County love the Chiefs and the Royals,” Lucas wrote on social media. “Today, they rejected plans and processes they found inadequate. Over the months ahead, I look forward to working with the Chiefs and Royals to build a stronger, more open, and collaborative process that will ensure the teams, their events and investments remain in Kansas City for generations to come.”

One mayor already has reached out to the Chiefs via social media. That’s Dallas mayor Eric L. Johnson, who reportedly has told local radio shows that he’d like another team to join the Cowboys in his city. The Chiefs played in Dallas before relocating.

“Welcome home, Dallas Texans! #CottonBowl,” Johnson wrote.

–Field Level Media