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Voters reject sales tax for Chiefs and Royals stadium projects, raising questions about the future in Kansas City

Voters reject sales tax for Chiefs and Royals stadium projects, raising questions about the future in Kansas City

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – In resounding fashion on Tuesday, voters in Jackson County, Missouri refused to approve an extension of the three-eighths cent sales tax on a ballot initiative to ensure the Kansas City Royals and Kansas City Chiefs remain in the county for at least 25 years.

Just before 9pm central time, Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas used his X account to announce the vote would not pass.

Less than an hour later, the royals and leaders admitted that their defeat was by a large margin. At 10 pm Central time, 100% of the votes had been counted – 78,352 who voted no (58%) and 56,606 who voted yes (42%).

“We respect the democratic process, we respect the voters of Jackson County and the election results,” John Sherman, the Royals' new owner, said Tuesday night. “We are extremely disappointed, because we are steadfast in our belief that Jackson County is much better off with the Chiefs and the Royals. That is a belief I hold both professionally and personally, as someone whose roots run deep in this city.

“We will take some time to reflect on and process the outcome and find a way forward that works for the Royals and our fans.”

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For more than two years, Sherman has wanted to build a stadium in downtown Kansas City, one that would ideally be open by the 2028 season. Before voting Tuesday, the Chiefs expressed their commitment to staying at the Truman Sports Complex, where both teams' venues have been since 1973. The teams are in the middle of sharing a lease that runs through January 31, 2031.

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But based on Tuesday's results, the long-term future for both teams, and where the Royals and Chiefs will host their home games, is unclear.

“The people of Kansas City and Jackson County love the Chiefs and the Royals,” Lucas wrote on his X account. “Today, they have rejected plans and processes that they find inadequate. Over the coming months, I look forward to working with the Chiefs and Royals to build a stronger, more open and collaborative process that will ensure the teams, their events, and their investments remain in Kansas City for generations to come.

Had voters approved the sales tax extension, that money would have generated about $2 billion, a significant portion of which would help fund a modern baseball stadium and several renovations to Arrowhead Stadium, a 52-year-old structure that will be one of the host sites for the Cup. World Soccer 2026. When the terms of the ballot question were finalized in January, the construction plans that the tax would fund had not been finalized.

Last fall, the Royals announced two potential sites for their ballpark district: one east of downtown and the other in Clay County, Missouri, across the Missouri River. However, the Royals failed to meet their deadline to finalize their top position. On February 13, the Royals announced a different location for their new stadium — and potential entertainment district — in the Crossroads District. The Chiefs shared their plans for Arrowhead's renovations — changes that will improve the suites, video boards and club lounges — on February 28.

Days before the vote, Sherman said the royals would pledge at least $1 billion from their ownership pool to the project. Projected renovations to Arrowhead were expected to cost $800 million. Chiefs owner Clark Hunt said he and his family would contribute $300 million.

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“Our focus and belief is that voters will approve the sales tax extension,” Hunt said. The athlete Last week during the NFL owners meetings. “We are not focused on what will happen if it does not pass. But certainly, we will have to consider all the alternatives available to us.”

Last month, the Chiefs and Royals reached community benefits agreements with the Jackson County Sports Complex Authority, which included more than $260 million in support and more than $200 million in economic aid to the county by eliminating the obligation to pay stadium insurance premiums and the parks tax. To the difference.

However, many leaders in the city and province felt that the financial commitments from the royals and chiefs were not enough. Jackson County Executive Frank White, who is in the Royals Hall of Fame, did not fully agree with the proposal. KC Tenants, a 10,000-member tenants' rights and housing advocacy group, also campaigned against the proposal, urging voters to reject the extension by emphasizing that taxpayers would pay a very large percentage to help build a new stadium and continue modernizing Arrowhead.

“Two billion dollars of taxpayer money could do a lot to improve our community,” Michael Savoir, a union leader with KC Tenants, told Kansas City television station Fox4 on Tuesday evening. “Billionaires don't fund my crap. Why should I fund them? I think we can all agree that selling anything was a very bad business, and it was very bad in how it was delivered – the message, the deception, the strong-arming, the blackmail.”

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Sherman has said multiple times that the Royals' likely last season playing inside Kauffman Stadium, which opened in 1973, would be the 2030 season. Before Tuesday's election, both Sherman and Clark said they had no plan B if the sales tax extension did not pass. If the Royals are unable to move to a new downtown stadium before 2030, one possible outcome is that the franchise could leave Kansas City entirely for another market willing to build a new stadium.

In 2032, the Chiefs could play in front of fans in Kansas, where developers from all over the state have sent team proposals in the past few years. In those discussions, developers recommended multiple attractive locations for a modern NFL stadium and training facility. A logical destination would be Kansas City, Kansas, near the Kansas Speedway and Children's Mercy Park, the headquarters of Sporting Kansas City.

“We are disappointed,” Chiefs president Mark Donovan said Tuesday night. “We feel we put on the best show for Jackson County. We were ready to expand the long-standing partnership the teams have had with this county.”

“We will and look forward to doing what is in the best interest of our fans and our organization as we move forward.”

Tim Smith, campaign manager for the New Royals Stadium Tax Committee, celebrated the election result by praising voters who are demanding more royals and leaders.

“People across Jackson County, regardless of their political affiliation, jumped at the opportunity to fight Goliath,” Smith told Fox4. “I'm happy to report that we killed Goliath tonight. This is the message to billionaires that ordinary people still matter.”

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(Photo: Jamie Squire/Getty Images)