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The Kansas City Royals have a decade left on their lease at aging ballpark Kauffman Stadium, but new owner John Sherman is already looking ahead.
The club entered a public-private partnership with taxpayers in 2006, which funneled $250 million in increased sales tax revenue to maintenance and renovations of the Truman Sports Complex, a multi-use facility that also houses Arrowhead Stadium.
Ten years sounds like a long time, but considering new stadiums typically take five years to build (and sometimes as long to fund), it makes sense that the Royals are starting the process of weighing their options now.
“I get asked this question all the time about where we’re going to play in the future,” said Sherman, who bought the club from David Glass for $1 billion in November 2019. “Since the day we acquired the franchise, trust me, we’ve had a revolving door of people bringing us lots of ideas, some that have been on the shelf for a long time.
“We’ve spent our time listening, but we’ve also thought of the future of where we play,” Sherman added. “We’re in a good spot here in Truman Sports Complex, but we need to start thinking about our plans for a stadium.”
While the current stadium certainly lacks modernity, it does possess a charm that players and fans alike seem to resonate with, especially the fountains in the outfield. The chief complaint around town seems to be the stadium’s location, which is nestled awkwardly outside of the city without good traffic planning. There is also no surrounding space to build any sort of accompanying nightlife, an entertainment concept that has become commonplace around professional sports stadiums everywhere in the country.
“Wherever we play,” Sherman said, “the criteria will be that the process will result in meaningful community impact that is real and measurable. It will result in economic growth and economic activity that benefits this region in real and measurable ways, and I think about quality of life. … The other criteria we need to have is a positive impact on quality of life.”
Before the funding increases were approved in 2006, there was a major push by KC residents to move the ballpark downtown by the Missouri River. Years later, that area of Kansas City has experienced significant economic growth, thereby making it a natural, tailor-made fit for a baseball stadium. Sherman, a Kansas City native himself, wants to do right by the fans and taxpayers alike.
“It’s frankly hard not to go public about this. I get asked this literally everywhere I go,” he said. “We’re having some thoughts about it and we want to be more transparent about it, and we want to start to get more feedback from groups in the community. How do they feel about the concept and the criteria I gave? The community impact, the economic growth and the quality of life for people in this region? If we can make that work, and the math works, a new ballpark is a possibility.”
The Royals are 69-82 this season.