While the Kansas City Royals continue to explore a new Kansas City ballpark and the Kansas City Chiefs talking with developers about a new Kansas City, Kansas stadium, the future of the historic Truman Sports Complex is in some doubt.
Opening in 1972 with separate facilities for the Royals (Kauffman Stadium) and Chiefs (Arrowhead Stadium), Truman Sports Complex was decades ahead of its time, showing how multiple sports teams could be accommodated without resorting to a multi-use facility. Both facilities were upgraded in recent years, with both teams committing to leases through 2031.
But new Royals owner John Sherman confirmed the team is evaluating four sites for a new downtown Kansas City ballpark. The angle is development, with the success of The Battery and the subsequent real-estate plans put in place by the likes of the Chicago Cubs, Colorado Rockies and Los Angeles Angels showing the way, per the Kansas City Star:
“We’ve got a team working hard on that. We’re looking at multiple sites. We’ve engaged some really good firms to help us look at that, both in terms of architecture, economic impact studies and things like that. The way I look at it is we’re one of only 25 cities in the United States with a Major League Baseball franchise. Four cities have two and there’s one in Canada. So these are really valuable assets for a community. So why shouldn’t we want to optimize the value of this asset on behalf of our community. I’m kind of interested in how the community wants to [optimize it.] A lot of it’s engagement with different parts of the community. We’re doing the work around real estate, sites and architecture and financing and those types of things trying to understand. I look at this as it ultimately will be a public-private partnership. We’ll be big investors in that partnership.
“But we’ve got a really good team working on it. I’m excited to see how that comes out and also excited to see how the community [responds]. I get a lot of feedback that The K is great. Look, my first date with my wife was a Royals-Yankees game in the late 70s. I was out there in 1980, 1985, ‘14, ‘15, so I love Kauffman Stadium. It’s a great place to play baseball. If you think about when Ewing Kauffman and Lamar Hunt got together to do that, whenever it was 50 years ago, it was a really innovative concept. For most football teams 3 yards and a cloud of dust was when they were in the infield.
“But now with baseball, again it’s a great place to play, but we think we can do more. Baseball in higher density areas, if you look around the country in Chicago, Atlanta just did a great project. Atlanta won the World Series, that’s helpful. But in Atlanta I think they had 2.6 million in the ballpark and over 10 million visitors to The Battery. So you can do a lot for a community as far as economic impact. So that’s what we’re studying. We’re looking forward to getting the feedback that will drive those decisions.”
With the move of the Royals, the Chiefs may feel free to leave Arrowhead Stadium as well–or double-down on their own development at Truman Sports Complex. We covered the topic today at our sister site, Football Stadium Digest, evaluating the potential of the team working with developers on a new stadium or deciding to work on Truman Sports Complex development if the Royals leave. Check it out here.
So there’s been plenty percolating under the surface when it comes to Kansas City sports venues, to be sure. The next 12-24 months for both teams should be fascinating.
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