The American Royal World Series of Barbecue is headed to Arrowhead Stadium this October.
The announcement came Tuesday morning at the Truman Sports Complex.
"Voter-approved renovations have clearly made the Truman Sports Complex an attractive venue for many types of events. I am thrilled the American Royal Barbecue, a unique and iconic event, is staying in Jackson County," Jackson County Executive Mike Sanders said.
The contest that is considered the season's grand finale for teams in the competitive barbecue circuit runs October 1-4. The livestock show and other American Royal events will continue to be held in the West Bottoms.
"The American Royal is the crown jewel of the KCBS Sanctioned Contest Network. Kansas City has earned its reputation at the epicenter of the BBQ universe, and this union will only reinforce that reputation," said Carolyn Wells, co-founder and executive director, Kansas City Barbeque Society.
It began 36 years ago in the parking lot of the Golden Ox Restaurant. The competition has grown every year to become the world's largest, drawing more than 50,000 people and competitors from all over the world. It attracts both world-renowned pitmasters and backyard barbecue enthusiasts.
"We've enjoyed many great years in the West Bottoms. However, to continue to enhance the American Royal's World Series of Barbecue for all competitors and patrons, we must go," said John Mitchell, Jr., chairman, American Royal. "We couldn't be more excited to partner with Arrowhead Stadium at the Truman Sports Complex."He said space is the issue."We love being at Kemper Arena and the American Royal complex. Our fans and competitors here love it too," Mitchell said. "The truth is we've just run out of space."
Mitchell said the change to Arrowhead's stadium facilities will offer a more spacious environment and allow the American Royal to elevate the experience for competitive teams, creating a better experience for everyone.
"Ultimately it comes down to this: The stars of the game deserve a venue as impressive as their talents," Mitchell said.
And the move fuels the America Royal's mission, Mitchell said.
"It's about providing an exceptional Kansas City barbecue experience that promotes agrarian values, education in agriculture and scholarship opportunities for kids," he said.
In 2014, the Royal was able to give $1.4 million in scholarship and educational awards.
"We are continuing to create a sports and entertainment destination for fans of all ages, interests and backgrounds through our Arrowhead Events business," said Mark Donovan, president of Kansas City Chiefs. "There's no event like the American Royal barbecue competition. There's nothing like the tailgating experience at Arrowhead on gameday. Combining the best barbecue event and the best tailgating in Kansas City was an easy decision and we are really excited to work with the American Royal."Donovan said the Chiefs will work with the Royal to make the event "bigger and better for Kansas City."
The move has already garnered approval from sponsors and barbecue community. City officials said it will make it easier to develop a path forward for Kemper.
"We've been looking for ways to expand for years," said Mariner Kemper, former American Royal chairman and CEO of UMB. "This pairing of Kansas City icons can only be beneficial for all concerned."
But not everyone is cheering the move. Some area residents are bemoaning the loss of the Kemper tradition.
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