Activist group rallies for benefits from Royals downtown stadium

Published: Jun. 14, 2023 at 10:26 PM CDT
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KANSAS CITY, Mo. (KCTV) - The Kansas City Royals have whittled down multiple possible sites for its downtown stadium to two.

Royals spokeswoman Sharita Hutton said the organization is focusing its attention on North Kansas City and a section of Kansas City’s downtown known as the East Village.

On Wednesday, a group called Stand Up KC stood more than 100 strong outside Kansas City’s city hall, chanting and holding signs to put pressure on the Royals to sign a community benefits agreement (CBA) that includes good jobs, union jobs and truly affordable housing in the new ballpark village. The concept proposed by the Royals includes restaurants, retail and apartments.

“We need a seat at the table!” someone shouted through a megaphone. “It’s time for poor people, for working people to come first.”

“Groceries is on the rise. Rent is on the rise. But, what’s not on the rise? Our wages and our benefits,” said Stand Up KC leader Terrance Wise.

“I clean houses,” said Rori Carter-Hall. “I work through Instacart and I babysit. But, it’s just not enough to take care of my kids and myself. All I want is a normal life.”

Lawmakers from both counties and a councilman representing the East Village area of Kansas City were at the rally to show their support.

“If they want billions of dollars of tax revenue, then -- at a minimum -- what they can do is pay people who work to make that possible a living wage,” said Clay County Commissioner Jon Carpenter.

“Stadiums come along and ask the taxpayers to foot the bill for billionaires to build stadiums. No more will that happen without you all being at the table,” said Eric Bunch, who represents Kansas City’s 4th District.

A CBA is often included in projects that ask for taxpayer dollars to supplement a private project. The Royals have made it clear from the start that they support having one. They’ve even supported some of the components Stand Up KC is pushing for.

When Royals owner John Sherman declared his intentions in November, his open letter stated clearly that “affordable housing options will be important to our efforts.”

The Royals and Stand Up KC have been talking.

As recently as last week, the Royals sent a letter to the group saying, “We hear you.” That letter also asserted that it’s too soon to get into specifics.

“In the next few months, we hope to carefully select a site, which will then allow us to begin fully informed and thoughtful conversations,” the letter read, in part. “In the meantime, our goal is to stay focused on the task at hand. We look forward to the day when we can announce our future site, align with local community, civic and elected leaders, and partner with organizations like yours.”


But, Stand Up KC organizers are getting impatient. They don’t trust the talk of good intentions. They’ve had enough of talking. They want something legally binding. They argue it’s not too soon to sign on the basics now, because wages and rents aren’t site specific.

KCTV5 went to The K several hours after the city hall rally to find out what fans there thought was important. Most didn’t have thoughts on a CBA, because most were adamant that the team should stay put.

One woman said, if it has to happen, the number one thing she’d like to see the tram pay for is infrastructure improvements.

“I feel like if you’re improving the roads in the area, the Kansas City area or whatever, then everybody gets that money,” said Elisa Busker. “It goes to everybody, every taxpayer is getting a benefit from it.”

The Royals have created a website dedicated to the downtown stadium plans with FAQs and updates. It can be found here.