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New downtown Royals ballpark seems to be a matter of when, not if

new downtown Royals ballpark in Kansas City apparently is a matter of when, not if, as the team and community leaders have settled on two leading sites for a new home.

When John Sherman took over as Royals owner, it didn’t take long for talk to emerge about a new downtown ballpark to replace Kauffman Stadium. Kauffman is a classic, opening in 1973 and renovated in 2009—a beloved facility with plenty of charm. But its location outside the city’s core means it makes a limited economic impact overall. And in an era where team owners expect a ballpark to generate revenue outside of game days and baseball teams are becoming de facto real-estate developers (i.e., The Battery and Wrigleyville), it’s no surprise Sherman is positioning the idea of a new downtown Kansas City ballpark as an economic proposal—perhaps as early as Opening Day 2026.

Which resonates with Kansas City business leaders seeking to bolster downtown development. Two sites for a new ballpark are being discussed: An East Village location at the I-29/I-70 interchange within the downtown loop, and another outside the core of downtown west of the 18th and Vine Historic Jazz District. (The team wants to stay within the loop; city leaders apparently prefer the latter location.)

There will be some challenging logistics involved. First, the team’s lease doesn’t terminate until the end of the 2030 season. Second, there’s the issue of selling a new location to existing committed fans. A downtown ballpark would in theory widen the potential fan base, and there’s the real likelihood of losing some of those fans who find the Truman Sports Complex incredibly convenient. Third, the Royals are talking a public/private partnership, and that may take the form of an extension of the current sales tax originally approved by voters for Kauffman Stadium and Arrowhead Stadium upgrades. And fourth, there’s always the nostalgia factor when you talk about tearing down a classic old ballpark. There will be plenty of fans who attend a game once every few years but will be dead set against anything new. It’s their memories being threatened, not the actual ballpark.

But with the Kansas City Chiefs potentially leaving Arrowhead Stadium—the possibility of a new Kansas stadium complete with development and sports-betting revenues may be too lucrative to ignore—the future of Truman Sports Complex in question anyway. The East Village location would be close enough to T-Mobile Center and the Power & Light District to generate a multiplier effect in terms of creating a true year-round entertainment mecca. So much of our reporting these days is on ballpark-related development, and a new downtown Kansas City Royals ballpark is really a development play, not a baseball play.

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