Kansas Weighs Making a Move on Royals, Chiefs

Legislative plan runs out of time, but lawmakers could try again
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 1, 2024 6:25 PM CDT
With Stadium Funding Stalled, Kansas Eyes Chiefs, Royals
Kansas Senate Commerce Committee Chair Renee Erickson, left, R-Wichita, confers with House Commerce Committee Chair Sean Tarwater, right, R-Stilwell, on Tuesday at the Statehouse in Topeka. The two lawmakers have helped draft a proposal designed to help the Kansas City Chiefs and the Kansas City Royals...   (AP Photo/John Hanna)

Some Kansas lawmakers see a chance to lure Kansas City's two biggest professional sports teams across the Missouri border. But an effort to help the Super Bowl champion Chiefs and Major League Baseball's Royals finance new stadiums in Kansas fizzed over concerns about how it might look to taxpayers. Members of the Republican-controlled Legislature pushed a bill Tuesday that would have allowed Kansas officials to authorize at least $1 billion in bonds to cover the entire cost of building each new stadium, paying the debt off with tax revenues generated in the area over 30 years. But GOP leaders didn't bring it up for a vote before lawmakers adjourned their annual session early Wednesday, the AP reports.

Some opponents derided the plan as corporate welfare. Other lawmakers were receptive but didn't want to pass the proposal until the Legislature approved a broad package of tax cuts for their constituents that Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly would sign—which didn't happen, either. Legislators' work on a plan began in earnest behind the scenes after voters on the Missouri side of the Kansas City metropolitan area decisively refused this month to extend a sales tax used to keep up the complex housing the Chiefs' Arrowhead Stadium and the Royals' Kauffman Stadium for more than 50 years. On Tuesday, Missouri Gov. Mike Parson told KSHB-TV that his administration would do everything it can to keep the Chiefs and Royals in his state.

The bill's biggest champion, Kansas House Commerce Committee Chair Sean Tarwater, a Kansas City-area Republican, said supporters want to give the teams another option should they contemplate leaving Kansas City, which he said would be devastating to both states. "We need them to stay in the metroplex," he said. The idea isn't dead yet. Lawmakers expect Kelly to call a special session of the Legislature to try to get lawmakers to pass a tax plan that she'll accept, and they could consider the stadium financing proposal then. "We just need a little time on it—we'll be OK," said Senate President Ty Masterson, a Wichita Republican. "We're serious about trying to incentivize the Chiefs to come our direction."

(More Kansas stories.)

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