Survey says Clay County voters oppose sales tax for new Royals stadium

Published: Aug. 22, 2023 at 8:26 PM CDT
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CLAY COUNTY, Mo. (KCTV) - As the Kansas City Royals continue their pursuit of a new home, a new survey revealed insights into how Clay County voters feel about a potential North Kansas City ballpark location.

The Royals unveiled plans for two dramatically different locations for a replacement to the aging Kauffman Stadium on Tuesday, calling them on equal footing even as the team-issued date for a decision looms next month.

The first location, called the East Village, would consist of a ballpark anchoring a 27-acre development just blocks away from the thriving Power & Light District, where T-Mobile Center already exists. The second location is a 90-acre tract across the Missouri River in Clay County, where the Royals would have more ability to develop commercial and residential properties.

“We knew we were engaged in a generational decision. The K has been the home to the Royals for 50-plus years — been a great home — but it’s time for a new one,” said Brooks Sherman, the Royals’ president of business operations. “It’s actually incredible that we have these two locations to even consider as a future home and sustain ourselves as a Major League city.”

Bold Decision surveyed Clay County voters, who unsurprisingly displayed a greater interest in having the new ballpark in North Kansas City than in the East Village in downtown Kansas City. According to the study, 47 percent of Clay County voters favored having a new ballpark district in Clay County, while 20 percent favored the East Village location.

However, Clay County voters strongly opposed a new sales tax to help finance a multi-billion dollar project in the Northland.

MORE: What to know about the Royals’ East Village proposal

According to Bold Decision’s data, 70 percent of Clay County voters said they would oppose a new sales tax for the purpose of funding a new stadium, with only 22 percent saying they would support it. Eight percent of respondents were undecided.

The Royals have long shared with the Kansas City Chiefs sales tax revenue from Jackson County for the upkeep of Kauffman and Arrowhead stadiums, both of which reside in the Truman Sports Complex. But while the Royals intend to build elsewhere, the preference of Chiefs owner Clark Hunt is to remain at Arrowhead Stadium and renovate the existing NFL venue.

Further complicating matters is the fact that the Royals and Chiefs are both tied to a lease with Jackson County that does not expire until 2031. If the Royals decide on the downtown location, they would remain in Jackson County and the teams could seek to extend the lease; if they move to Clay County, some tricky politicking and negotiation would be necessary.

As the late-September date for a decision nears, the Royals are continuing to negotiate with political and business leaders involved with both proposed locations. They also are soliciting feedback from fans, many of whom have been lukewarm about the prospect of building a new ballpark for a team that is once again on pace to lose more than 100 games.

“We’ve got work to do on a number of fronts,” Sherman said, “to get to our decision on this.”