This article we will be talking about taxes. Before you click on and say "Ew gross taxes" please bear with me. Taxes are one of the most all-important things for a potential new stadium, especially one that will be publicly funded. Many stadiums across all sports require taxpayer money to keep afloat, and the Truman Sports Complex is no different. Both GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium and Kauffman Stadium are taxpayer funded, and we should not expect that to change if and when both franchises find new homes (That is if KC wants to keep them around) This being said, there's more controversy regarding the new downtown stadium for the Royals surrounding taxpayer dollars and how they will be used.
For context, the Royals plan on building a new downtown stadium in 2031 (perhaps sooner) once the lease on the lot Kauffman Stadium is on is up. This project Royals' president John Sherman and Co. will be taking on is estimated to be worth $2 Billion in total costs. In other words, a hefty price for only private investors to pay, unless you're like Elon Musk or something, but I don't really think he gives much of a you know what about KC so throw that idea out the window. This $2 Billion will be funded by none other than the taxpayers of Kansas City, and let's just say there are some mixed feelings about that. In a statement to John Sherman and the Royals from the KC Tenants organization, a union focused on housing rights and apartment living access in the KC area, it states that "As landlords raise rents across the city the proposed downtown stadium would usher in a new wave of gentrification, like it has in so many other cities with similar recent projects..." (twitter.com/KCTenants) "We don't want to live in a city where a billionaire tells us what he wants and we just have to take it."
What KC Tenants is referencing here is the widespread and alleged gentrification, and in turn price hikes for cost of living, to areas that foot the bill for new stadiums and facilities that are publicly funded. This new downtown stadium for the Royals would hike the taxes up for those living in the KC proper area, which is already struggling to keep schools open, provide affordable housing, and dependable public transportation. These issues, in the eyes of many KC residents, should be priority #1, and they are not according to the actions of John Sherman and the Kansas City government if they choose to invest in this stadium over these improvements. They could certainly do both, but that would still mean higher taxes for residents of KC's inner city, again, an area that struggles mightily in terms of class structure, income inequality, and overall financial health. The new stadium has so far been unwelcomed in the eyes of KC's residents, and could play a huge factor into how this stadium comes to be. Take Oakland with the Raiders and the A's, both organizations tried to put their stadiums in downtown Oakland, much to the chagrin of Oakland residents who had to foot the bill. It caused the Raiders to move elsewhere and could cause the A's to do so as well. The last thing I think anyone wants is to have a situation like Oakland.
In response to this, John Sherman reassured the people of the KC area that their opinion matters and that they will take into account what would benefit the people of the KC area as well as the franchise itself. "We are asking we do this together. You will hold us accountable to deliver benefits on your behalf. We will be beside you with every significant investment." (twitter.com/BlairKerkhoff) It sounds as if Sherman wants to make this a dual project, where part of the funds are private and part are public. If this is the case, it makes it easier on the taxpayers and will make folks more willing to invest. However, this still does not solve the issue of gentrification and driving out those that already live where the stadium and district will be built, and I honestly do not believe KC Tenants or anyone that opposes this move has the firepower to prevent it. We've seen groups try in other cities, but they have failed to stop said gentrification and ergo the rise in cost of living in that respective area due to the new amenities. It could spell trouble for those that live there, as they may not have the power to "stop the train." as fellow sports personality Carrington Harrison put it.
What does this have to do with the Chiefs and Arrowhead though? Well, if the Chiefs are to move the most likely destination is the Legends area in Wyandotte County, Kansas. The stadium would more than likely be publicly funded (as Arrowhead is now) and be in a spot where there is less housing to worry about, but still the threat of crippling taxpayers under the foot of a high dollar. Wyandotte County is also not in the best shape financially (though it is better than the inner KC area) and having a new stadium built would increase taxes should it be publicly funded. In lies the conundrum many cities and sports organizations face, convincing the public to foot the bill for a stadium can be a monumentally hard task depending on which area you choose to put it in. To be honest I thought the downtown stadium idea was always not an incredible one given where they wanted to put it, and I would be more comfortable with the Chiefs moving to an area that is still easily accessible, but also out of the way of housing projects and living structures so as to not disrupt that and gentrify the area. Gentrification has always been a huge issue that cities face when building new amenities, as most of the time you have people living there already that aren't exactly thrilled you spike their cost of living upward. However, with the Chiefs moving out to Wyandotte and to an area with less population density, it seems like the better move than what the Royals are currently going through with. The only worry is the tax dollars, and if the citizens of Wyandotte are willing to take on that burden. Otherwise, Johnson County I hear is pretty well off and has room to spare for a stadium...
I ask your thoughts and opinions on this matter though. I want to make this an open discussion, as you all are (more than likely) KC residents who this impacts directly. What are your thoughts on taxpayers funding new stadiums and sporting facilities? Let me know in the comments below, and be featured in next week's ScorchCast. Cheers.
Burn Notice: 10/10 Burning money like its firewood