With the Kansas City Royals’ lease at Kauffman Stadium running through 2030, the city is beginning to examine the process of building a downtown Major League Baseball stadium.
New Royals owner John Sherman told CityScene KC that no formal review process is underway, but discussions have begun regarding eventually moving operations downtown.
“Baseball creates more economic opportunity in denser areas versus suburban areas or less dense areas,” said Sherman, who bought the Royals from David Glass for $1 billion in November. “If you can put together the right package, downtown would be an interesting opportunity.
“We have to be seriously looking at that within the next few years. There’s a lot of work to do.”
An eight-block area called East Village, which is owned by VanTrust Real Estate, is frequently discussed as a potential site for a new ballpark.
“The East Village is certainly a spot that could be of interest,” Sherman said. ”I think there’s a top architectural firm or two who think this is a good spot. We’ve kind of invested in the east side of downtown together so that we can take advantage collectively of the right opportunity when it came along and we certainly think downtown baseball is one of those opportunities.”
“Emotionally, we’re in love with the idea of a downtown ballpark wherever it lands,” VanTrust executive vice president Rich Muller told CityScene KC in the fall. “I’d like to believe (the East Village) would be more than enough to accommodate a ballpark and have room for more development. One advantage, being somewhat on the periphery, you don’t need to get people on city streets in the middle of downtown,” he said. “At that location, if placed correctly, ingress and egress is as workable as any.”
The East Village is located about eight miles northwest of Kauffman Stadium, where the Royals currently play. Kauffman Stadium opened in 1973 and went through a $250 million renovation from 2007 to 2009.
“We have a great ballpark on I-70 and 435, a beautiful place to play and we have a good relationship with Jackson County,” Sherman said of Kauffman Stadium, which is located next to Arrowhead Stadium – the home of the Kansas City Chiefs. “It’s a good lease with 11 years to go.”
Kansas City has had this discussion before. When business leaders looked into moving the Royals downtown in 2005, the estimated cost of a stadium was $357 million. A study done by the Downtown Council at the time estimated the move would boost weekday attendance at Royals games by 20 percent.
A 2017 study commissioned by the Downtown Council and City of Kansas City examined the East Village and three more locations for a potential downtown ballpark. The other locations were in the North Loop area, at 13th and Grand, and near the Jackson County Jail.
The Royals went 53-109 and finished 26th out of 30 MLB teams in attendance in 2019, according to Forbes. They generated $233 million in revenue, the third-lowest total in the league.