The future of Kansas City Chiefs football teeters on the Battle Line

There are strong opinions on both sides of State Line Road that will undoubtedly get more heated until a decision on the Chiefs' future home is reached.
Kansas City Chiefs Victory Parade
Kansas City Chiefs Victory Parade / Kyle Rivas/GettyImages

There's a lot of history when it comes to the rivalry between the states of Missouri and Kansas. Going all the way back to the Civil War days, the two states have historically not gotten along that well, even though they technically share a city. We're not just talking about former Big 8 and Big 12 rivalries between the respective universities of each state; rather, there are a couple of centuries' worth of bad blood boiling between two states that have way more in common than they'll admit.

One thing that both certainly hold near and dear is their mutual love for the Kansas City Chiefs. In early April, Chiefs (and Kansas City Royals) fans on the Missouri side of the state line got an opportunity to extend an existing Jackson County sales tax to help fund, among other things, stadium renovations at Arrowhead Stadium—the home of the Chiefs since 1972 with a legendary reputation that grows as the Chiefs modern dynasty continues to dominate the league. That vote was cast down with 58% of Jackson County voters answering "no".

There are strong opinions on both sides of State Line Road that will undoubtedly get more heated until a decision on the Chiefs' future home is reached.

Well, okay, back to the drawing board, right? Many felt that the proposition was shot down due to lackluster planning and a poor presentation on the Royals' side. Because of that, the general consensus locally seemed to be that if this were a Chiefs-only initiative, it would have passed with little to no resistance. Could it be that the Chiefs (the most successful franchise in the NFL at the moment) had hitched their wagon to the wrong horse? While the Royals do more than likely need to be downtown in the long run, asking a county to help fund a stadium for a team that hasn't invested in itself recently is a stretch.

Or could it be that there's growing sentiment around the country that billionaires who own professional sports franchises should foot the bill for new stadiums with their own money? After all, most of these guys could essentially pay cash, or secure the funds to privately build new stadiums, arenas, and ballparks on their own with little to no issue. Numerous cities and counties across the country have voted the same way when other billionaires have thrown out similar propositions, leading one to believe that the massive TV, streaming, and merchandising deals that professional sports leagues are striking these days may have pulled the wool back from the eyes of those who spend their hard-earned money on the on-field product.

Regardless of the reasoning behind the vote, it didn't take long for Chiefs owner Clark Hunt to decide the organization needed to make a move, and they needed to make one fairly quickly. With stadium construction projects being quite the undertaking and only 6 years remaining on the Chiefs and Royals lease at Truman Sports Complex, the clock is ticking. The day after the vote, rumors began swirling that the state of Kansas would likely try to lure the Chiefs across state lines, something unsettling to fans in Missouri. In the last week, these renderings took Twitter by storm of a domed stadium concept in the Legends area in Kansas City, KS.

If we wanted to draw a dividing line in Chiefs Kingdom that the onslaught of Swifties joining the ranks in 2023 could not do, crossing the border into "enemy territory" in some fans' eyes is the way to do it. A move to Kansas would not matter much, in my opinion, in the long run. Ultimately, the Legends area is growing and thriving. It houses the Kansas Motor Speedway, a venue that thousands of Missourians were actually flocking to recently to take in a NASCAR race. Hollywood Casino is there with the ESPN Bet sportsbook on-site. A Margaritaville resort is in development, and Sporting KC resides there as well. Seems like a good place for a football stadium, no?

That depends on who you ask. The nostalgia and history of Arrowhead Stadium is a hard thing for anyone—Missourian or Kansan—to ignore. If you're reading this, chances are you've made the pilgrimage to Football Mecca to tailgate, and subsequently screamed your lungs out at Arrowhead Stadium. It is as much a part of the Chiefs as Hank Strahm, Andy Reid, or Patrick Mahomes. It represents the best home field advantage in professional sports, and it's a place where memories are made.

How could the team walk away from Arrowhead? Sure, there are upgrades needed for the Chiefs to modernize their facilities and the thought of hosting a Super Bowl in Kansas City in a domed stadium should be alluring to all involved. Can't we just come up with some sort of common sense-based solution to do that right where the stadium is today? Do we have to pull the threat of "if you mess around, we'll bring this revenue to another state" card out? Who really wins here if this is the action that is taken in negotiating these plans?

The answer, simply put, is that the Hunts, who are already pretty well off financially, and whatever state wins this dog and pony show will be the winners. Fans on either side stand to gain nothing from either state housing the team. Realistically speaking, it will certainly save some fans on the far reaches of the Kansas side of the KC Metro some travel time in getting to and from games. If the team sticks in Missouri, residents of Jackson County will get to keep their same routines on Sunday and nothing will change for those making the drive in ultimately. The silver lining of keeping Arrowhead intact for at least a generation to come would be nice as well.

But realistically, everyone outside of the ivory towers and government buildings lose if the team relocates, even if it's a mere 23.1 miles west of the current stadium site—the state of Missouri being chief in these losses. They will have lost two NFL franchises in the course of just about a decade with the Rams defecting to Los Angeles and the Chiefs potentially moving to Kansas City, KS. Businesses on the Kansas side will certainly benefit, but are we really doing this for the right reasons? Should that be the carrot dangled here as we're making this decision an ultra-politicized affair?

The bottom line is this: if the Chiefs move to the Kansas side, they likely won't permanently lose any fans. There will be some ruffled feathers, but not many severed ties. Missouri will be down bad, and Kansas will have a new burgeoning sports epicenter at the Legends. As a Missouri native who lives in Kansas, I truly have no dog in the fight. But the sanctity of Arrowhead and more importantly the faith that Kansas Citians on both sides of the state line have in the decision-making and tact of the Hunt family hang in the balance. Something tells me the NFLPA surveys might not have been lying about Clark Hunt's propensity to spend money based on how these negotiations are going.