Royals confirm they are exploring plans to move to downtown KC

Kansas City Royals

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (WDAF) — It’s something fans of the Kansas City Royals have speculated about for years. The Royals confirmed they are exploring the possibility of building a downtown Kansas City ballpark.

Tuesday afternoon, John Sherman talked about the future of the Royals and where the team will play after its lease runs out in 2031.

“We are conducting an internal process to help us evaluate our options for where we play, and one of those options is to play downtown baseball,” John Sherman, Royals owner, said. “It remains to be seen, or, you know, we’ve talked about this before, we’re starting to get more feedback from the community. We look forward to more, but, but wherever we play. It’ll meet that criteria, and it’s got to do great things for Kansas City.”

Sherman said there isn’t a specific timeline on when a decision would need to be made. He said the Royals are working on a future plan with the Chiefs and Jackson County.

He also said that he anticipates any type of deal to build a downtown stadium to be a public-private partnership with taxpayer money involved. Much like the stadiums were renovated with a sales tax that voters approved in 2006.

“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,” Shurman said.

During the Tuesday afternoon news conference, Kansas City Royals also announced the promotion of general manager Dayton Moore to club president and elevating longtime assistant GM J.J. Picollo to fill his role.

The 54-year-old Moore presided over one of the most remarkable turnarounds in baseball history, leading the long-suffering Royals from a team that regularly lost 100 games upon his 2006 arrival to one that reached consecutive World Series. And in 2015, they beat the New York Mets in five games for their first championship in 30 years.

The Royals have been on another major rebuilding effort after the small-market club was unable to keep some of the big names that ushered in their winning era. But there have been signs that another breakthrough is on the horizon as a wave of talented young pitchers continues to help Kansas City win games down the stretch this season.

Picollo, who has interviewed for several GM jobs, has long been considered Moore’s heir apparent. They worked together in Atlanta before coming to Kansas City, where Picollo rose to assistant GM in charge of player personnel.

The moves in the front office ensure a certain amount of continuity within the organization, which is something owner John Sherman and his partners have made a priority since purchasing the club three years ago.

At that point, Sherman decided to keep Moore on as the general manager and Picollo in charge of player development.

Moore, who grew up a Royals fan in Wichita, began his career as a scout with the Braves juggernaut of the 1990s. He steadily climbed the ranks to director of international scouting and director of player personnel development, and in 2005 he was given the job of assistant general manager while also interviewing for the GM job with the Red Sox.

Then-Royals owner David Glass, who had been pilloried by fans for his inability to turn the Royals around, turned to Moore in June 2006 to finally accomplish the task. Moore decided to invest heavily in Latin America, establishing academies that helped to identify talent, and slowly built the Kansas City farm system into one of the best in the big leagues.

Still, it took until 2013 before Moore saw the fruits of that labor in Kauffman Stadium. That’s when players such as Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas began to get their call-ups, and combined with some nervy moves made by Moore — such as trading away Zack Greinke and acquiring James Shields and Wade Davis — finally put the Royals over the top.

They reached the World Series the following year, losing to the Giants in a dramatic series that came down to the final out of Game 7 in Kansas City. And they returned the following year to finish the job, beating the Mets for the championship.

Picollo had his fingerprints on those teams, too.

The former Braves scout joined the Royals as director of player development in 2006 and, two years later, became the assistant GM in charge of scouting and player development. In that role, Picollo worked closely with the Royals’ entire minor league setup, ushering players from their first steps in pro ball all the way to the majors.

He was promoted to his current role as vice president and assistant GM in charge of player personnel in 2015, and now he will have an opportunity to finish Moore’s latest rebuilding job in Kansas City.

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