KANSAS CITY — The Royals have begun to explore options of a downtown ballpark in Kansas City, CEO/chairman John Sherman revealed Tuesday.
One of those options is downtown instead of Jackson County, where Kauffman Stadium is currently in the Truman Sports Complex. The Royals share a parking lot with GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium, where the Kansas City Chiefs play.
“We are conducting an internal process to help us evaluate our options of where we play,” Sherman said. “One of those options is to play downtown baseball. We’re starting to get more feedback from the community. We look forward to more. But wherever we play, it’ll meet that criteria. And it’s got to do great things for Kansas City.”
Kauffman Stadium opened as Royals Stadium in 1973. Before then, the Royals debuted as an expansion franchise in ’69 and played their first four seasons at Municipal Stadium near downtown.
This idea of a downtown ballpark isn’t new, and it’s been assumed since Sherman and his group of investors bought the team in 2019 that they would explore this idea — but it will take time. The Royals’ current lease at Kauffman Stadium is up in 2031.
“Since the day we acquired the franchise, trust me, we have had a revolving door with people bringing us lots of ideas, some that have been on the shelf for a long time,” Sherman said. “And we’ve spent our time listening. We’ve also thought about the future of where we play. I would just tell you that we’re in a good spot here at Truman Sports Complex. Our lease is up at the end of the decade. But we need to start thinking about our plans for a stadium over the next five to 10 years.”
Sherman listed several criteria he is keeping in mind when discussing a new ballpark and location.
“Wherever we play, the criteria will be that the process will result in meaningful community impact that is real and measurable,” Sherman said. “It will result in economic growth and economic activity that benefits this region, also in a real and measurable way. And I think about quality of life. … I think the other criteria is that we need to have a positive impact in the quality of life for our citizens in Kansas City with a particular focus on those underrepresented parts of our community.”
Sherman said he expects taxpayers would be involved in funding a new stadium. In 2006, Jackson County voters approved a 0.375 percent sales tax for improvements to the two stadiums at the complex. As part of the renovations, the Royals and Chiefs extended their leases to 2031.
“That was a public-private partnership between the taxpayers of Jackson County and the Royals for our part and certainly the Chiefs for their part,” Sherman said. “I would anticipate that again it would be a public-private partnership. How that’s structured, I think that’s part of what we’ll find out in our process.”
The ongoing discussions and decisions are going to lead to a long process, but taking it public is a significant step. And one that Sherman wouldn’t take if he didn’t think it could lead to change.
“Frankly, it’s hard to not go public with this,” Sherman said. “I get asked this literally everywhere I go, even more than when Bobby Witt Jr. is going to come up to the Major League team.
“We want to be transparent on how we’re thinking about it, begin that discussion and start to get feedback from the various groups in the community, as to how they feel about the concept and … if we can make [the criteria] work, and the math works, it’s certainly a possibility for the future.”