Royals and Chiefs face a Catch-22 situation with Question 1 vote

Jackson County, Missouri residents will take to the polls Tuesday to vote on a 0.375% sales tax increase that would go towards funding park improvements at Arrowhead Stadium, a new stadium for the Royals, and other financial tools that will allow for improvement to the Truman Sports Complex.

Minnesota Twins v Kansas City Royals
Minnesota Twins v Kansas City Royals / Jamie Squire/GettyImages

By now, all of us in Kansas City are familiar with the "Question 1" proposal hitting Jackson County, Missouri ballots on April 2.

The opining on social media from folks in Kansas City as well as those from and fond of the area has been immense in the months leading up to the vote and has been all over the spectrum of reaction. From "billionaires should fund their own stadiums" to "this would be great for the city", you can find a take that fits your narrative just about everywhere you look.

But what really stands to change if the vote goes one way or the other today?

First, we have to look at what a "Yes" vote actually means for Kansas City, because it is certainly more than a 0.375% sales tax increase for the residents of Jackson County.

First and foremost, at the epicenter of the decision, it would mean that the Royals are likely heading downtown to occupy an area of the city that is currently beloved: the Crossroads District. Second, it would mean that the proposed changes to Arrowhead Stadium that were presented in February would also be imminently in the works. Exciting times for the city's two longest-standing sports franchises, no doubt, but also a lot of collateral damage, if you will.

What if the "No" voters reign supreme? Well, ultimately it will send Clark Hunt, John Sherman, and their respective teams back to the drawing board for stadium renovations and—gulp!—locations. Many believe that if a "No" vote does, in fact, take place, one of both franchises would be heading across state lines to the Legends area of Kansas City, KS.

Would that ultimately be a bad thing? It depends on who you ask, but leaving the Truman Sports Complex behind would be a bit of a shock to the system for a city that has grown accustomed to breaking noise records and bringing World Series and Lombardi trophies back to those friendly confines.

It's kind of a Catch-22 for the two franchises, and both are at a crossroads—no pun intended—as to where their future homes will be. The Royals are leading the charge on this with their proposal for a downtown stadium that would drive more attendance and bring significant economic activity and renewed opportunities to the downtown area. But at what cost? The Crossroads District is one of the most beloved habitats in Kansas City for the arts, dining and drinks, concerts, and other activities that generally bring people together who otherwise might not find themselves in the same stomping grounds.

Can baseball do that? Sure, but I think the fundamental flaw that people are finding in the idea of building a new ballpark is the idea that a team that has not, in public opinion, invested in itself over the course of the last nine years asking the county to foot a large part of a bill that would also all but strip the city of a social and cultural hub. You also lose the nostalgia and allure that Kauffman Stadium currently holds in Kansas Citians hearts. Is it kind of a piece of junk? Sure, but it's our piece of junk. And you can tailgate there. What is Kansas City best at other than barbecue and winning Super Bowls? Tailgating.

The renovations to Arrowhead are certainly needed, particularly with the Chiefs continuing to redefine their place in NFL lore as the league's current premier franchise. Throw in the fact that the stadium will host group play during the 2026 World Cup and anyone would agree that some updates and modernizing are needed at 1 Arrowhead Drive. But the look of asking for a tax hike when Clark Hunt has been noted as one of the "cheaper" owners in the NFL according to the annual NFLPA survey doesn't do much to assist with optics.

Look, this is something that most cities that house pro sports teams have faced. It's not that big of a deal. The issue here is the two franchises involved in this could not be on more differing planes when it comes to competitiveness in their respective sports. Do the Chiefs need and deserve an upgrade to their facilities? Of course. Should Jackson County have to chip in and help pay for this, pay more for tickets every year, and help fund a new downtown ballpark for a floundering baseball franchise that hasn't even invested in itself?

As a Johnson County resident, I won't be able to answer that. But I would not be surprised if the answer to this Question is "no", regardless of the speculated repercussions.