With Kansas City Royals owner John Sherman saying his team would be exploring new-ballpark options, including potentially a new downtown facility, local reaction online seems to be simple: Love the K, dislike the location.
Kauffman Stadium and Arrowhead Stadium, home of the NFL’s Kansas City Chiefs, were built when many sporting facilities were migrating to the suburbs, as municipalities were looking for cheap land and easy freeway access. But with transit patterns shifting in the last decade, central-city real-estate rates dropping and more residents moving to downtowns and nearby neighborhoods, downtowns have become the preferred locations for new sports facilities. These downtown locations are also attracting associated development; witness the revitalized neighborhoods surrounding Petco Park and Target Field.
So you can see why a new downtown ballpark spurring additional investment and development would be an attractive proposition. There is one big flaw to this idea: Kauffman Stadium is a very fan-friendly facility, and virtually every important development in team history occurred there. But fans don’t particularly like the east-side location of the Truman Sports Complex; getting there on most evenings is inconvenient, especially for anyone on the west and southwest sides of the Kansas City metro area. Once there, fans have few options: they can either tailgate or head directly into the ballpark.
The ideal solution would be to pick up Kauffman Stadium and transport it downtown. But we know that can’t happen, so for local fans the options will be to double-down on the status quo east-side location, or bite the bullet and support a new downtown Royals ballpark.
In this article in the Kansas City Star, the consensus seems to be that as much as fans love the K, they’re also ready to move on and at least consider a new downtown location. Now, judging public sentiment via Twitter is always a problematic pursuit; reaction on our social-media channels was pro-K and anti-downtown, but virtually none of these folks actually live in Kansas City or are regular attendees at Royals games. They don’t have the skin in the game like the folks quoted by the Star do.
Now, in the course of researching and deciding the future of the team’s facility needs, there will be lots of polling to see what people outside the social-media world think. Still, the folks quoted by the Star can serve as a useful guide to general sentiment and help the team frame the issue.
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