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Royals new ballpark quest seemingly muddier than before

When John Sherman came out and said he would be leading a Royals new ballpark quest, the task seemed simple: find the best site in downtown Kansas City. Now, the mission isn’t quite as clear.

No doubt the task of moving downtown was daunting: Not only would the team be leaving venerable Kauffman Stadium, the team would also be moving from a suburban site with abundant parking to an urban location requiring some planning. Yes, there is plenty of downtown parking: the city already supports plenty of events at T-Mobile Center with few difficulties. Yes, Kauffman Stadium is clearly showing its age. And yes, the team is likely to make more of a financial impact at a new downtown ballpark and associated development than at the Truman Sports Complex.

But habits die hard. With many in the market unwilling to support a new downtown ballpark and others wanting to see the team play in suburbia, the search for a new Royals ballpark seems to be muddier than it was six months ago.

Some of that is the team’s fault. By listing potential ballpark sites and then including North Kansas City on the list, that sent a signal that a downtown Kansas City ballpark was not a done deal. Bryant DeLong, mayor of North Kansas City, and other local official confirmed they’ve been talking with the Royals about a ballpark in North Kansas City. (How seriously is hard to say.)

The biggest battle, though, may be convincing fans that leaving Kauffman Stadium is in the best interest of all. The K has been the home of the Royals for nearly the entire run of the team, playing host for virtually every big moment in team history: World Series championships, amazing individual performances from the likes of George Brett and Frank White. Opinions are definitely mixed, per the Kansas City Star:

“Although I grew up coming to the original Kauffman Stadium, I think it’s probably seen its day,” Royals supporter Jennifer Heath said. “I think the downtown has been revitalized so much that a new stadium will definitely help bring in more tourists and revenue to the downtown Kansas City area.”…

“I like that its easy to get to and easy to park,” Royals fan Karen Wolf said. “I don’t really have any complaints. I think downtown is fun, but the ease of getting there would be a possible barrier for attendance.”

Fellow fan Wayne Whitney agreed.

“I think they ought to leave it right here,” Whitney said. “I don’t know why anyone would want to move to downtown where you can’t find a place to park.”

With no sense of urgency (the Kauffman Stadium lease doesn’t end until 2030, though presumably arrangements will be made for early termination) and no specifics on the table, it can feel like little is actually is happening–though we’re guessing there are plenty of discussions and meetings happening behind closed doors.

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