For those of you who are local to the Kansas City area, you're well aware of the ongoing process to fund and build a new stadium for the Chiefs' baseball brethren, the Kansas City Royals. The Chiefs and (to a lesser extent) the Royals are as woven into the fabric of Kansas City as barbecue, jazz music, and the mafia. Not too long ago the city experienced a renaissance on a national stage when the Royals took home the 2015 World Series while Andy Reid was slowly building the next NFL dynasty.
The difference between these two franchises is that one has remained on the map while the other has regressed back to a floundering franchise unwilling to invest in being competitive year in and year out. The last time I looked at the NFL standings, the Chiefs were 6-1 defending Super Bowl champions, so I'll let you take a stab at who the criminally mismanaged franchise I'm referring to is out of those two.
Needless to say, the lack of a decent product on the field has led to taxpayers being a touch resistant to funding a new stadium, since the ownership of the Royals has apparently been hesitant to fund a competitive team. A report released by the Kansas City Star yesterday had the estimate of a new stadium between $3-5 billion. For context, this is how much Stan Kroenke's monstrosity of SoFi Stadium cost to construct outside of Los Angeles.
It's not the same thing at all if the Royals and Chiefs were to make the same demands.
Whether these figures are accurate or not remains to be seen, but a little public hesitation should be expected when seeing numbers like that. Why are we paying $4 billion for a baseball stadium for a team that ranks 23rd in payroll in a league where there's no cap on what you can (or have to) spend? The AL Champion Texas Rangers spent over $103 million more on their on-field product in 2023 than the Royals.
Many have been outspoken about increased taxes in Jackson County to fund the proposed downtown ballpark, which has now turned into a slight rumble about Kansas City losing the team altogether. Kansas City, Missouri Mayor Quentin Lucas weighed in on the discourse this morning on X (formerly Twitter):
There are certain battles as a politician that you should 100% choose to fight. Fight for fair treatment and protection of your constituents. Fight to grow and flourish your local economy. Fight to be someone elected by the people who is for the people. Quinton Lucas has made it clear through various other battles that he is more into the sensationalist approach to politics and dying on hills that may not be worth dying on. This is a battle, one with Chiefs Kingdom, that Lucas may not realize he's started.
Let's just look at plain and simple facts here. If the Chiefs proposed a new stadium that required tax hikes from the public to manifest, would we even be having this same discussion? Arrowhead Stadium has hosted the last 5 consecutive AFC Championship games. They are the defending Super Bowl Champs and have lifted two Lombardis in the last four seasons (with another Super Bowl trip in between). Clark Hunt and the Chiefs front office have been dedicated to keeping the Chiefs competitive and investing back into the community while they're at it. The Chiefs are a borderline dynasty in the NFL right now, rattling off one of the most successful stretches in the history of the most storied league in American professional sports.
The Chiefs are kings of the tallest mountain in the sporting world when it comes to domestic entertainment. Major League Baseball, meanwhile, is toying with rules changes to try and make their game—for lack of a better term—less boring and more digestible in hopes of increasing in-person attendance and television viewership. Let's put it this way: the NFL has every major streaming platform and network throwing around billions of dollars every time bids come up to secure the rights to their broadcasts, and Major League Baseball is on Bally Sports. Do you see where I'm going with this?
Listen, to all the seamheads out there, I like baseball just as much as the next guy. I'm a sports-a-holic. I get that there are people who are passionate about keeping the Royals in Kansas City, but to posture that the city would react the same way if there was a threat of the Chiefs leaving compared to potentially empty threats of the Royals taking off if ownership doesn't get their way is absolutely preposterous.
One franchise is committed to excellence at every level and has generated millions if not billions of revenue for the city in which it resides, and the other ranked 28th out of 30 MLB teams in attendance, averaging a hair over 16,000 attendees per game in 2023, and matched a franchise record for losses at 106. If this stadium debate were raging about building Arrowhead 3.0, to think that the city that has suffered through such tremendous heartbreak and seen their beloved Chiefs triumph and get to the pinnacle of football success would say "We're not paying for that" is absolutely asinine.