The KC Royals, along with their Truman Sports Complex neighbors, surprised fans with a joint statement on Friday afternoon. Both teams "announced their commitment to remain in Jackson County," with a catch: Jackson County voters must approve extending a 3/8-cent sales tax until 2071 during a special election on April 2, 2024.
Both teams had specific commitments to cover several costs. The Chiefs and Royals pledged to pay "for insurance coverages for their respective facilities," saving the county $80-$100 million over a new lease's lifetime. Plus, the teams would give "the county the ability to reallocate each team's share of an existing park property tax," freeing up $140 million for Jackson County to use differently. The statement closed by mentioning a community benefits agreement "that will benefit the citizens of Jackson County."
The statement presents a united front from the two organizations after months of speculation regarding their futures in Jackson County, much less at Truman Sports Complex. It also precedes a Jackson County Legislature vote on Jan. 8, deciding if two different proposals will be placed on the ballot.
Royals Hall of Famer Frank White continues to preach patience in the process, much to the chagrin of many fans. He released a response to the team's joint statement, clarifying that "no agreement has been finalized with either team."
"My commitment is to transparency, diligence, and fairness throughout this process," White said. "Every step taken will be in pursuit of a fair and equitable agreement that upholds the financial stability and future prosperity of our county. I will not support any ballot issue until we have reached an agreement that aligns with the best interests of Jackson County and our residents."
That is too many words. What does this really mean for the KC Royals?
The teams want this 3/8-cent proposal to pass and have voiced what they will do if voters support the measure. This offers no clarification for the Royals future site, but this tax extension and subsequent lease agreement would keep the team in Jackson County for the foreseeable future.
This is not the end of the road, but the next few months are crucial for the Royals downtown stadium future. Both professional sports teams coming together and sweetening the pot further for the county's citizens is just the latest chapter in this never-ending story.