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Total cost of a new downtown Kansas City Royals ballpark: $4B+

A confidential report circulated by Jackson County pegs the total cost of a new downtown Kansas City Royals ballpark as exceeding $4 billion, but there are questions as to whether the unreleased estimate is accurate or trustworthy.

The report, a confidential financial analysis prepared by Jackson County Executive Frank White’s office, estimated the total cost of the ballpark over 40 years would cost between $4.4 billion and $4.6 billion. This estimate is based on the assumption that rising costs for insurance and construction past the initial Royals construction estimate of $1.5 billion will totally eat up the proceeds of a 40-year 3/8th cent countywide sales tax. Those costs, as presented in the report, will rise 10 percent annually, apparently to infinity and beyond. (At the same time, sales-tax revenues will rise only 1 percent a year, according to the report.)

The Kansas City Star obtained the report.

It’s not exactly clear how realistic this report is: projecting that insurance and construction costs will rise 10 percent annually for 40 years does not pass the smell test. Even a Republican member of the Jackson County board is a skeptic:

Sixth District Legislator Sean Smith, one of only two Republicans on the Democratic-controlled body, did respond in a text message when asked to comment on Schulte’s memo and spreadsheet. 

He was skeptical of some of the assumptions in the projections, but also questioned whether county taxpayers should be asked to shoulder so much of the burden of paying for a new stadium.

“I will say that some of the inflationary numbers look too high. Not even insurance goes up by 10% per year,” Smith said. “More importantly, the Royals are asking for more than Jackson County Taxpayers can afford. I believe Kauffman remains a great stadium and haven’t seen sufficient evidence that it needs to be removed from service.”

Leaking a report like this usually has to do more with politics than the merits of the report, and there are certainly some areas of disagreement when it comes to lease negotiations. (For example, this report and the Royals disagree on the impact of the ballpark and development on sales-tax proceeds. The county estimates 1 percent, the Royals estimate 2.5 percent.) So take this report with a grain of salt and wait to see how lease and plan negotiations go.

Rendering courtesy Kansas City Royals.

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