This past Wednesday night, the Royals hosted their 3rd Community Listening Tour stop regarding the debated proposition of moving the Royals from Kauffman Stadium to a new $2B ballpark and ballpark district in downtown KC. John Sherman, Chairman and CEO of the Royals, was there along with Brooks Sherman, the Royals’ Sr VP/Chief Operating Officer, Sarah Dempster, Resource and Project Manager with Populous, Sarah Tourville, Sr VP and Business Operations with the Royals, and Sharita Hutton, Sr Director of Communications with the Royals. They discussed the proposal and its impact on the community vs. the costs of renovating Kauffman Stadium. The K is the 6th oldest park in MLB and one of if not the best-looking ballparks in MLB.
Kauffman Stadium: One of a Kind
Unlike the ballparks in Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, Oakland, San Francisco, Houston, and Anaheim, where the MLB and NFL teams shared a home, Kauffman, and Arrowhead stood out. They were the first and only of its kind to be individual homes of teams within the same complex. Kauffman opened in 1973 under the name of Royals Stadium and featured a water fountain display in the shape of the number 1, renovations in the early 2010s changed that. Immediately it was thrusted into the spotlight and was host of the 1973 All-Star Game. The park, to current date, has hosted the All-Star game twice, 4 World Series, and a total of 9 postseason series. It was also the location of the night Miguel Cabrera clinched his triple crown in 2012.
Old vs. New
Populous, a KC-based architectural firm, has been tasked with coming up with a new stadium and looking into the cost of keeping the K around. Populous has built some of the newer stadiums in the league, such as Truist Park in Atlanta, Target Field in Minnesota, and PNC Park in Pittsburgh, to name a few. Their research determined it would cost around $2 billion for the whole thing. The stadium cost is just over a billion. The study also showed that renovating The K would be $1.072 billion and take 2 to possibly four years to complete due to large parts of concrete being ripped out and replaced in the lower bowl area. The Royals are fronting the stadium’s cost but need local and state support to build the accompanying entertainment district. Local, state and even federal funds would cover the costs of infrastructure for traffic, building the bars, restaurants, retail, and housing that is part of their plan. Once complete, the district would become a place that would provide year-round entertainment and create a lot of full-time jobs for the city. The new park would provide more amenities and experiences for more demographics the Royals want to reach. Call me a relic, call me what you will, but you come to the ballpark to watch the game.
We were given cards to write our questions and concerns on to read off after the proposal was laid out. Most of the questions revolved around the effects on the areas the new build will be in and around the area where Kauffman sits now. One of my favorite questions was when will we see a better product on the field. My question wasn’t read off during the 90-minute event. I went up to the stage after and spoke with Brooks Sherman and asked why the area around the sports complex had never expanded. He told me that throughout the years, the Royals and the Chiefs could never find investors to go in and make something happen. The Royals would like to try to get something on the ballot as early as August of this year. When asked if the Royals would move/threaten to move if the vote failed. John Sherman said the team would not leave KC. So the old ballyard still has a chance.