Players provide perspective on Royals downtown stadium

Published: Dec. 14, 2022 at 10:18 PM CST
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KANSAS CITY, Mo. (KCTV) - On Tuesday, at the first public forum on a downtown stadium for the Kansas City Royals, the public heard from the business side of the team. On Wednesday, KCTV5 had a chance to get perspective from the baseball side.

Royals General Manager J.J. Picollo was making a gingerbread house at a Christmas event for the Boys and Girls Club.

Santa was a surprise for the kids. but the Royals attending were hardly surprised to be asked about the big stadium talk.

“It’s a really exciting thing,” said Picollo. “You know, we have the privilege of traveling all over the country and seeing new stadiums filled in downtown areas. So, it’s an exciting time for us.”

Team execs, stadium architects and developers provided a few additional details on Tuesday night about their vision for a downtown ballpark district.

They said they’ve looked at 14 locations but did not reveal them. They said the cost would be $1 billion for the stadium and $1 billion for the complex of restaurants, shops, hotels and housing around it. They said “the bulk” of the investment would be private but didn’t break that into dollars and cents.

Kauffman Stadium was built in 1973. It’s hardly new, but it’s meaningful for former Royals pitcher Al Fitzmorris. He joined the team in its inaugural year, four years before Kauffman even existed.

“I like the stadium that exists right now,” said Fitzmorris. “Of course I have history there. I played there for five or six years. But, you know, I know everything has to be new. You need new stadiums. I mean, Kauffman Stadium was new when I played in the old Municipal Stadium, and I know things have to change and move over.”

Current pitcher Josh Staumont was borderline indifferent about the whole downtown thing, pointing out that the game is the same from the mound no matter where the stadium is.

“I think the baseball aspect is the most important part of that, that we’re keeping baseball in Kansas City,” said Staumont. “We’re promoting the growth of baseball in this city. All we want to do is bring a championship here as much as possible. When it comes to the stadium -- as a player -- bases are still 90 feet, mound is still 60 feet, 6 inches where we’re playing the game.”

One big thing Chairman and CEO John Sherman said Tuesday was that, even if all the pieces do not come together to bring the Royals downtown, he still intends to keep the team in Kansas City.