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Kansas City Royals narrow new-ballpark site search

As the Kansas City Royals continue community meetings to explain their plans for a new downtown ballpark, we’re seeing those plans clarified as the team narrows a site search to five from the original 14 locations.

As you’ll recall, the Royals are promoting a new downtown Kansas City development featuring a billion-dollar new ballpark and another billion spent on a multiuse development featuring housing (including affordable housing), retail and Class A office space. The Royals would pay for the development and split the cost of the new ballpark with the local and state governmental bodies, including the proceeds of a Jackson County 3/8 of a cent sales tax. The team has already had one listening session with the public, with residents raising concerns about gentrification and wondering why Kauffman Stadium isn’t good enough any longer. (The reason given by the team: up to 70 percent of the ballpark would have to be rebuilt because of wear and tear on the ballpark concrete, identified as alkali silica reaction. Basically, age and the elements have caused deterioration of the structural concrete, and the Royals have chosen to pursue a new ballpark and its potential revenue boost rather than pay for repairs.) From KCTV:

One question a member of that group submitted to the team leadership was: “Will working families, unions and people of faith have a seat at the table to negotiate a strong CBA?”

“I ask you to be patient with us because that CBA agreement will be dependent upon our new home, the location and the new destination in the ballpark district,” replied Tourville.

Terrence Wise, one of Stand Up KC’s leaders, was not satisfied with that response.

“Regardless of where the stadium is being built or where the proposed new site is, it’s some things that they can commit to. That’s workers having a seat at the table, a wage floor and just having a voice,” Wise said after the session concluded.

In the second listening session last night, members of the audience raised concerns about fair wages and parking. Fair wages is fair game for any urban development—just ask the Oakland A’s ownership, which has struggled to reach a community-benefits agreement (CBA) with Oakland in their pursuit of a new waterfront ballpark. A local activist group is asking more than just a living wage at the ballpark and want to see a minimum $15/hour wage across the entire development. The answer from Sarah Tourville, Royals Senior VP of Business Operations, was simple: there’s no CBA yet, and it’s premature at this time to make promises on a CBA.

Parking is always going to be a concern for any fan transitioning from a suburban environment and a wide expanse of asphalt to an urban environment that may require a little more planning. To say this is always a concern when it comes to new ballparks is an understatement; when folks start attending games at the new facility and become more acquainted with parking options, that concern melts away. And, of course, the fans who decide on passing on the new ballpark because of parking issues are replaced by fans who find the new location is more convenient.

A third listening session is scheduled for tonight.

Rendering courtesy Kansas City Royals.

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