The Kansas City Royals announced yesterday what taxpayers will get for their money if they approve $425 million in sales-tax subsidies to the Royals and Chiefs on April 4: a “360-degree entertainment atmosphere” with “an abundance of amenities geared toward families, groups and individuals.” (Cults and angry mobs will presumably have to make their own fun.) Included are a new food court, a new restaurant, expanded concessions concourses featuring new food stands, and, for the not especially hungry, living quarters for the team’s blue-nosed, disturbingly crown-headed mascot.
The Royals also plan on adding 2,500 “fountain seats” in the outfield (around Kauffman Stadium’s iconic fountains), which is slightly odd in that most baseball teams these days are looking to reduce capacity to create ticket scarcity, not increase it. Either Royals management is more optimistic about a return to pennant contention than the experts are, or it doesn’t understand that increasing supply without increasing demand leads to reduced prices – either way, it’s potentially good for Royals fans, I guess.
As for the effect on Kansas City beyond the fountains, the K.C. Star has a good roundup of the likely economic impacts, which sums up to “not as much as people claim.” In additional to the usual reasons for pessimism – the substitution effect and the like – is one that’s seldom mentioned: Raising sales taxes by 0.375% to pay for the renovations, according to federal data, would take $25 a year out of the pocket of the average Jackson County resident, dampening the local economy. That’s something you almost never see addressed by those eager-to-please economic impact consultants.