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First looks at the new downtown Royals ballpark renderings

With a modern design owing more to the look and feel of Target Field than the classic look of Kauffman Stadium, we have the initial renderings for the new downtown Royals ballpark pitched for the old Kansas City Star printing plant site in the Crossroads District.

The new location, which became the top choice after the team and architectural firm Populous studied other new-ballpark sites in downtown Kansas City and North Kansas City, is located directly south of T-Mobile Center and adjacent to the Power & Light District, with the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts and mass transit nearby. The emphasis from the renderings is less on a multi-use development stressed in previous renderings and more on placing the ballpark in an area already set up with parking and amenities for baseball fans. Yes, there are fountains planned for the ballpark site–a center-field extravaganza more prominently featured as they are now at Kauffman Stadium. The goal: a 2028 opening.

Of course, it’s one thing to point out the number of parking spots in the ballpark vicinity, but it’s another thing to educate fans who are more accustomed to a sea of parking at Kauffman Stadium than a number of ramps and lots within six or so blocks of the ballpark. And we’re sure we will see plenty of online complaining about the parking. As with any new ballpark, some fans–particular from the east side of the Kansas City metro used to a short drive and a sea of parking–will vow never to head to the new downtown Royals ballpark. (In a presentation today unveiling the new location, Populous’s Earl Santee said there are 40,000 parking spaces within a 10-minute walk of the new proposed ballpark location, as opposed to the 26,000 parking spots available at Kauffman Stadium and the Truman Sports Complex.) They’ll be replaced by a younger generation of fans who will reserve a parking spot via app for the game, or seek out mass transit for their commute, some of the time heading in on a whim, unwilling in the past to drive in rush hour for a night game at Kauffman Stadium. And, of course, the commute will be considerably easier for those on the fast-growing Kansas side of the KC metro area.

The release of the rendering is just the latest, but hardly the last public discussion of a new downtown Royals ballpark. There are plenty of new Royals ballpark details to be revealed before an April 2 referendum is decided by Jackson County voters, who are being asked to extend an existing 3/8ths sales tax to cover some ballpark costs as well as upgrades to Arrowhead Stadium, home of the NFL’s Kansas City Chiefs. (That tax is currently slated to end in 2031.) Those details include a lease with Jackson County, the actual ballpark configuration (the site, the former printing press for the Kansas City Star, will need to be expanded to allow for a new Royals ballpark), a budget, and a community benefits plan.

Right now we don’t have a firm budget plan–the Royals are still talking a $2 billion development, with the new ballpark costing a billion–but we do know the budget plan includes the Royals purchasing the former printing plant land and conveying it to Jackson County. Also to be determined: the final footprint of the Royals’ development, as the team ownership has been in acquisition discussions recently with local landowners.

Renderings and site map courtesy Kansas City Royals.

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