Although the team’s Kauffman Stadium lease is still years from expiring, city officials are considering potential sites for a new downtown Kansas City Royals ballpark.
Replacing Kauffman Stadium with a new downtown ballpark has long been a goal for some downtown developers, as it would bring the Royals from the Truman Sports Complex into the city’s core. The Royals even gave some consideration to the idea of moving into a new downtown facility more than a decade ago, before Jackson County voters in 2006 approved a 0.375 percent sales tax hike to upgrade Kauffman Stadium and neighboring Arrowhead Stadium–home of the NFL’s Chiefs.
Both teams are locked into leases at their current facilities that do not expire until 2031, but the notion of bringing the Royals to a new downtown ballpark in the future has not been ruled out. City officials have been considering sites that could accommodate a new downtown Royals ballpark, and thus far team owner David Glass is welcoming potential options. More from the Kansas City Star:
City Manager Troy Schulte said his conversations with Glass associates have left the door open to that possibility.
“He (Glass) is saying, `Give us some options,’” Schulte said. “He has not said no.”…
One early consideration is banking the 12 to 14 acres needed for a stadium. Already, Schulte noted, one prime site — a location between 12th and 13th streets just east of Grand Boulevard — is off the table, snapped up by developers for other purposes. It was considered an appealing option because of its proximity to the streetcar and the Power & Light District.
Other possibilities remain east of City Hall and near the 18th & Vine Jazz District. “You’ve got to reserve it, or you’re losing development sites,” Schulte said.
A new downtown ballpark could certainly fit into modern sports facility planning trends, especially if tied into a larger development initiative in the surrounding area. However, the idea of a new downtown Kansas City ballpark still seems very preliminary, and a few factors would have to be considered along the way. Obtaining a site and coming up with a funding model would be musts for a new ballpark, and officials may have to make critical decisions about the area’s broader sports facility picture in the event that both the Royals and Chiefs seek alternatives as their current leases expire.
Given those considerations, combined with the amount of time remaining on the existing Kauffman Stadium lease, it would be years before the Royals make a move to a new downtown ballpark. While it remains to be seen whether a new downtown ballpark becomes a reality, it would make sense for the city and the team to want a strong understanding of their options well in advance if any serious efforts are to get underway.