Why the big 'No' vote shouldn't panic KC Royals fans

The Jackson County tax extension measure has been defeated.

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

In a special election Jackson Countians will long discuss, scrutinize, analyze, and debate, voters Tuesday nixed extending a tax that helps fund the Truman Sports Complex, the long-time home of the KC Royals and Chiefs. The fates of Kauffman Stadium and Arrowhead Stadium, both built to replace old Municipal Stadium where the teams first played, remain to be determined. So, too, does the fate of both franchises, whose campaigns in favor of the tax extension fell short. Had the measure passed, it would have aided a new downtown park for the Royals and renovations to Arrowhead.

I, for one, won't panic, not even in light of the fears of many that Tuesday's rejection of the tax measure means Kansas City will lose one, or both, teams.

But before I elaborate, full disclosure is warranted.

I don't live in Jackson County. I never have, and probably never will; that's no knock on the area I think much of and enjoy, it's just how things worked out. And the only taxes I've ever paid there are sales taxes ... and quite a bit of those through the years. So, other than my affection for the Royals and Chiefs, and my fervent desire to see them stay, I have no skin in this particular game.

But I've for decades been a keen observer of the KC sports scene, especially the Royals, albeit from my Kansas vantage point. The A's stole my heart when I was just a boy, and broke it when they moved to Oakland; fortunately, and thanks much to the shrewd efforts of the late Sen. Stuart Symington and an American League in need of more clubs, the Royals soon arrived, and made my baseball life whole.

Today, the Royals occupy more of my sports time than any other team, not only because I cover and write about them, but also because they mean a lot to me. But I can still be dispassionate and impartial when I need to be, and this is one of those times. Emotion and compassion play no part in how I believe this will all turn out.

My take? The Royals and Chiefs will stay put. Something will get worked out for the Chiefs, who'll find a way or ways to renovate Arrowhead, and also for the Royals, who'll find a way or ways to fix what needs to be fixed at The K, realize their aspirations to build a new ballpark downtown (which passage of the tax proposal would have helped finance), or perhaps even relocate somewhere nearby on the Kansas side, or even to Clay County in Missouri.

Here's why I'm thinking the way I am, with the emphasis only on the Royals. I love the Chiefs, but I'd recommend Arrowhead Addict, our sister FanSided site, for Chiefs perspective and analysis.

The KC Royals aren't leaving the area

So, what convinces me that the Royals won't leave the KC metropolitan area? Why won't they bolt like the Athletics did when Charlie Finley became disenchanted?

First and foremost are the deep, deep roots the franchise has in the area. The Royals filled the hole the A's so abruptly left after the 1967 season and gave baseball back to a city boasting one of the richest histories in the game; the area fell in love with them, and they with the area, even before their first Opening Day in 1968. To this outsider, at least, the Royals seem as much a part of Kansas City as anything else, and that's a bond too strong to break.

Then there's the economic impact. Yes, the Royals could survive, and perhaps do better financially, elsewhere, but their departure would almost certainly visit ugly and enduring financial harm on several segments of the community. There isn't an area leader or governing body that thinks, even for a second, that such a result would in any sense be good. That's one reason they'll push and work hard to find a way, a compromise, to prevent a Royal departure.

But what about the A's, you say? Haven't they proved twice, first in KC and now in Oakland, that a team can just pull up stakes and flee? (The A's future move to Las Vegas has MLB's seal of approval). Yes, they have, but in the present context the Royals are apples and the Athletics oranges — therelationships between the involved teams and cities are so dramatically different as to defy legitimate comparison. The Kauffman Stadium issue is of recent vintage, while the A's and Oakland have feuded long and hard over the Oakland Coliseum. Acrimony flourished in Oakland.

And it's hard to believe that at this relatively early stage, and despite some of the harsh words and opinions the proposed Jackson County tax extension generated, the private and public parties involved won't find a way to satisfy each other, and please the community and fans at the same time. All stakeholders, including Royals principal owner John Sherman, are too closely tied to the area.

Some, perhaps many, will disagree with these thoughts of mine. Maybe I'm wrong, and they're right. But I don't think so.

I look forward to the solution I see coming.

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