KANSAS CITY, Mo. (WDAF) – Kansas City architecture firm Populous joined Royals leaders on stage Tuesday for the first session of a community listening tour on a $2 billion stadium and ballpark village project.
Following Royals owner John Sherman’s open letter last month, it was the first chance for Royals ownership to explain to taxpayers who will be asked to fund a portion of the project why a new stadium is needed.
Sherman has a vision for what he’d like to see the Royals’ gameday experience and year-round trips to the downtown area become.
“There’s a long list of new modern ballparks that are part of the vibrant neighborhoods and districts that are benefitting from their integrated location, and all of them have created transformational change,” Sherman said.
Groups like Stand Up KC and KC Tenants have expressed reservations about the project. The club hoped to dispel those Tuesday, saying there will be a community benefit agreement. The team is considering 14 sites in the downtown area.
“We are not wanting to be in the business to displace residents and businesses, and we don’t envision that to be a part of this project,” Royals Chief Legal Officer Adam Sachs said.
The $2 billion stadium and ballpark village will bring in an estimated $180 million extra dollars a year and create 20,000 jobs, according to projections provided by Populous and HR &A Advisors.
It would be the largest public-private partnership in Kansas City’s history. However, Sherman pointed out no new taxpayer dollars would be needed beyond what has previously been approved for Truman Sports Complex’s ongoing costs. The team’s lease and that tax expire at the end of this decade.
“Those things that we love so much about Kansas City would be in the district. You’ll be reminded constantly that you are in Kansas City,” Earl Santee, Global Chair and Founder of Populous, said.
Some fans questioned why such a big project is needed, especially with the team’s recent struggles. But Sherman says he’s looking long term, and architect Populous says because of cracking concrete and rusting steel it would cost $67 million more to renovate Kauffman Stadium than to replace it.
The stadium portion of the project is currently projected to be $1.005 billion.
“What they showed the deterioration of that facility and the money that would go into that to bring it up to a level for the next 50 years. It’s beyond its use,” Royals fan Don Gardner surmised after listening to the presentation.
The Royals have created a website dedicated to the project with additional information.