Royals push back their self-imposed deadline to decide on location for new ballpark

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(AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Kansas City Royals are pushing back their self-imposed deadline of the end of September for deciding on a location for their new ballpark, though they remain confident that their final proposal will be put before voters on an April ballot.

The Royals are trying to decide between a downtown location, called the East Village, that would keep the replacement for aging Kauffman Stadium in Jackson County and a competing location across the Missouri River in neighboring Clay County.

Royals owner John Sherman has said multiple times the club hoped to decide on a location by the end of the month. But it must first reach an agreement with political leaders on a proposed financing package; the current lease with Jackson County includes a portion of a 3/8-cent sales tax that has paid for renovations and upkeep on Kauffman Stadium.

The stadium and accompanying ballpark village are expected to cost about $2 billion, the largest public-private partnership in Kansas City history. Sherman has said Royals ownership would pay for half of that total along with any overages.

“Leaders in both counties know a critical piece of the evaluation process will be negotiated lease terms so that the Royals, our future partner and, most importantly, the voters can know what to expect,” the team said in a statement Wednesday.

“With the framework of our current lease and willing partners on all sides, we are optimistic that the process will result in a win-win for the Royals and our next home,” the statement continued. “Although we will not have a site selected by the end of this month, we are more confident than ever that a world-class ballpark and surrounding district for entertainment, retail and housing will build on our region’s momentum, serve our citizens well, and further establish Kansas City as a top tier destination.”

Sherman has been planning on a replacement for Kauffman Stadium since purchasing the club in 2019, though the process was set back a bit by the pandemic. It has continued to move slowly as the Royals try to reconcile their needs with those of the two counties and the Kansas City Chiefs, who have shared the lease with Jackson County to help pay for Arrowhead Stadium.

Last month, the team unveiled plans for the two dramatically different locations. The downtown plan would consist of a ballpark anchoring a 27-acre development near the already thriving Power & Light District, while the Clay County location would provide a 90-acre tract capable of developing more commercial and residential properties.

Both of the plans, neither of which is finalized, were produced by Kansas City-based sports architecture giant Populous, which has renovated or designed more than 20 stadiums currently in use across Major League Baseball.

“Leaders in both Jackson County and Clay County know that we and the Chiefs need clarity on our stadium plans in time for the public to be fully informed for a vote in April 2024,” the Royals said. “We take our responsibilities very seriously to act in the best interests of both the Royals and our region, and we will continue our work to make sure this project is done right.”