KC Royals stadium confusion compounds what fans need from team, legislators

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KC Royals fans remembered the team's magical postseason runs in 2014 and 2015 as the World Series began this week. The moments that made each postseason special, the famous broadcasters' calls, and the doubters proved wrong, all seem like distant memories. They can only imagine their Royals winning in the postseason once again. Yet, someone else's imagination set the fanbase ablaze this week after a report from The Kansas City Star.

Star writer Mike Hendricks reported a very different price tag for Jackson County taxpayers on Thursday. The amount, according to Hendricks, rose from $1 billion to possibly $6.4 billion, a staggering rise and amount for any professional stadium development. The Star cited "a confidential financial analysis conducted by Jackson County Executive Frank White’s office that was sent to county legislators this week," yet the public has not seen this report themselves.

County and KC Royals officials reacted incredulously to the reported price tag.

Some local officials were skeptical of the amount, no matter where they stand on the stadium. Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas emphatically denied the reported amount after The Star's report.

"Nothing I have ever seen about a new Royals stadium even remotely suggests the cost will be between $4 billion and $6 billion," Lucas made his thoughts clear on his Facebook account. "That would place it as one of the most expensive stadiums ever built in the history of the United States. There are many reasons not to like a deal, but good faith negotiations should be expected on the community’s behalf. I’m seeing anything but. If the answer is simply no from some, they should make it clear and allow others to bargain responsibly and productively."

Former Jackson County legislator Dan Tarwater called the reported amount "an insane number," going on to say that these tactics suggest the county wants "the negotiations to stop." Democratic Legislator Manny Abarca questioned the legitimacy of the numbers and the source in an interview with 610 Sports and FOX4 on Friday.

“The reality is that this number’s made to create a large and scary figure is the component that [the Jackson County Executive's office] want to have happen,” Abarca said.

A lot of clear responses to an Excel sheet the public has not seen.

The KC Royals had to respond to Thursday's report from The Kansas City Star.

The Royals came in Friday evening after the initial reaction, posting their response on their official X account:

“The suggestion that a new stadium for the Kansas City Royals would cost Jackson County taxpayers $4.4 billion to $6.4 billion is erroneous, misleading, and inconsistent with what we've shared publicly and in private negotiations.

"Together with the Chiefs, we have been clear in asking for an extension of the existing Jackson County 3/8 cent sales tax. For the Royals, this would result in an approximate $350 million up-front contribution from the County toward the estimated $1 billion construction cost of the stadium. Private investment from the Royals alongside other public funds will also pay for the stadium and associated infrastructure. Additionally, the Royals would cover cost overruns to the stadium, as well as the proposed $1 billion surrounding district to generate year-round, long-lasting economic output and other benefits for the county, city, and region.

Kansas City is on the rise. A successful public-private partnership is critical to secure the future of the Royals and Chiefs for decades to come.”

It was a very turbulent 24 hours following Hendricks' story in The Star. Social media exploded; those opposing a new stadium used the new numbers to fuel their fire, others appeared to find those numbers hard to believe, and still others appreciated the team's rebuttal, but remained frustrated about the uncertainty of the entire matter.

KC Royals fans deserve more transparency from all parties in the stadium process.

The frustrating uncertainty is a huge sticking point for me and others. Too many questions abound. Which county, Jackson or Clay, is the leading site? Is there an irrefutable need to replace The K? Just how much should a new ballpark cost? Why should taxpayers foot any of the bill for a new venue? How accurate, if at all, are the numbers in the as-yet publicly undisclosed report Hendricks wrote of, and what are those numbers based on? The details of whatever negotiations are ongoing can't all be revealed, but transparency is a key here. Can't the parties all give us a little more of that? I think so.