KC studying $450m stadium for Royals, because old one was renovated eight whole years ago

I’m sorry, what?

The city of Kansas City is funding a study of at least four potential sites for a downtown baseball stadium for the Kansas City Royals, according to documents obtained by The Star…

[Kansas City Manager Troy] Schulte said the studies started after the Downtown Council approached City Hall about the feasibility of downtown baseball. Schulte added that he agreed to help fund a study to consider whether the four sites would work so that the city could plan ahead if the idea gained momentum…

Potential obstacles for downtown baseball include parking and how to pay for it. Schulte said initial estimates for a stadium were north of $450 million. Those details, he added, have not been studied in depth.

Any stadium, if it were built, wouldn’t be built until 2030, when the Royals‘ lease runs out at Kauffman Stadium. And sure, by then the stadium will be 57 years old. But it also just got $250 million in taxpayer-funded renovations that were completed in 2009, with new seating, scoreboards, and concessions areas, and generally scores near the top of best-stadium lists. So spending “north of $450 million” to replace it, especially when the team isn’t even demanding to, seems a bit, well, demented.

This whole thing appears to be driven by the Downtown Council, a council (duh) of downtown (duh) business and real estate interests, with a few nonprofits thrown in, who undoubtedly have figured out that the city building a baseball stadium on their doorstep could be good for business, or at least speculative property values. (They’ve already floated this idea before, in fact, though this is the first time it’s gotten an actual study.) Why the city is taking this seriously is beyond me — or rather, I’m sure it’s the idea that a stadium will “revitalize the downtown core” or something, a notion that’s so laughable among economists that the most recent studies are a decade old, because nobody can get funding to do new ones when the numbers just keep showing the same thing over and over and over.

As for Royals execs, they responded exactly how you’d think someone would if you offered to tear down their newly renovated home and build a completely new one:

“We’re perfectly content where we are, we think it works well,” [Royals VP Kevin] Uhlich said. “Thirteen years from now, who knows what the situation is going to be? I can’t hold anybody back from doing what they’re doing on their side. We would listen.”

There’s also a rendering of a potential new stadium, which looks like HOK architects drew it up in Minecraft:

On top of the obvious issue of Kansas City citizens maybe being on the hook for up to $450 million in stadium money in the not-too-distant future, I’m starting to get really concerned that there’s a notion going around that once a sports team’s lease expires, of course the public has to offer a new or renovated building in order to get them to extend it. As someone who was an apartment renter for 25 years, I can tell you that this is not how things normally work in the real world; but if team owners can succeed in getting city officials and the media to consider this “standard business practice,” then this website may have to be around forever. I better start taking my vitamins.


14 comments on “KC studying $450m stadium for Royals, because old one was renovated eight whole years ago

  1. When a baseball team at any level can’t draw or has had an attendance drop , they are Demanding a new stadium ! It might not be public news but I sure behind the scenes the Royals are Demanding ! Royals attendance dropped 4k plus this season , largest drop in baseball. Atlanta in new stadium gained 4k plus this season. Since attendance is trending down in MLB , expect more Texas stories in next few years.

    • Counterpoint to that is even dropping 4K per game year-over-year this was still the third best attendance they’ve had since 1991. They went from World Series champs to .500 and are experiencing the inevitable decline. For point of comparison, they drew 27K this season and were at 17K in 2006 so their trend is still way up. It’s almost like better teams draw more fans.

      • Baseball attendance is absurdly good by any historical standard. More tickets sold and at higher prices than owners could have ever dreamed of 49 years ago.

        Even the “laggards” like Tampa are way ahead of teams like the late 1970s Bay Area clubs, who struggled to sell 10k/game.

        KC has a beautiful park that is easy to get to. That awful design adds nothing.

        • They also used to announce ‘paid’ attendance in the ballpark at one time. It was not uncommon to hear 13k-18k announced as a good crowd in those days (which are not all that long ago in the grander scheme of things).

          Sure, the Yankees, Dodgers and a few others often sold out for anything but a dog matchup in bad weather, but that wasn’t the case for most MLB teams.

        • The late 70’s Bay Area teams struggled to draw 5k people a game. The A’s drew 300k people the year people thought they were moving to Denver.

  2. If they could sell the Sprint Center to the city, I’m sure they can sell this new baseball stadium idea. Even without the Royals.
    Also, when trying to get the locals excited about a new stadium, don’t issue some half assed rendering of an inferior stadium.

  3. The odd part is downtown would actually be a horrible place for a stadium in Kansas City. The money is all in Johnson County, Kansas and getting to downtown during rush-hour (i.e. for a weeknight game) is a nightmare.

    And since this is Kansas City, they will all be driving since there isn’t public transport to speak of and most folks don’t work downtown, but downtown has no where near enough parking to handle that many cars.

    Being out on I-435I-70 and surrounded by parking is probably the best place for it to be to allow folks to get to the game.

  4. Well I mean newer stadiums help teams be able to compete and win a world series……just look at the Mets……………………

    *sigh*

  5. First of all, forget $450 Million, a new stadium Downtown with structured parking will cost a minimum of $900 Million-$1.2 Billion. Kauffman is good for another 30 years minimum (check out Dodger Stadium, the template for Royals Stadium), and KCMO taxpayers won’t foot the bill without Johnson County chipping in, and that will NEVER happen!!

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