More than 58% of voters in Jackson County, Missouri have voted down a sales tax measure that would have seen a new ballpark for Kansas City Royals and renovations to Kansas City Chiefs’ stadium.

On Tuesday night (2 April), a vote took place in Jackson County regarding a proposed sales tax, which would have been used to fund a new $2bn ballpark for MLB team Kansas City Royals as well as renovations to Arrowhead Stadium, the home of Super Bowl Champions Kansas City Chiefs.

To the despair of the two teams, more than 58% of voters rejected the proposition, leaving both teams with serious questions over where future games may be played.

Reacting to the vote, John Sherman, Royals Owner, said: “We’re deeply disappointed as we are steadfast in our belief that Jackson County is better with the Chiefs and the Royals, as someone whose roots run deep in this town, who has been a dedicated fan and season-ticket holder for both of these teams, and now leading a remarkable ownership group.”

In January, David Adams, Senior Director of Partnerships at the Royals, spoke on SBC’s Behind the Badge podcast. During the podcast, Adams hinted at the public vote and explained how a new stadium would be a game changer for the baseball team.

Reacting to the vote, Mark Donovan, President of the Chiefs said the Chiefs will do “what is in the best interest of our fans and our organisation as we move forward.”

Prior to the vote taking place, Donovan published a written statement to Jackson County voters. In his message, Donovan laid out the historic relationship between the NFL team and the location.

The statement read: “Over the past 50-plus years, we have built an incredible partnership between the Kansas City Chiefs and Jackson County. It’s a partnership that has spanned the careers of Hall of Fame players, generated enormous economic and community impact, and elevated the national and international profile of the entire region.”

The statement also attempted to highlight the benefits that the area would see from the tax, he stated: “This is not a new tax. Nor is it a tax increase. We’re asking to extend the agreement to have the same sales tax, at the same percentage, with the same level of support as we have today.

“This is a better deal for taxpayers and fans. As a part of this deal, $200mis going back to Jackson County.

“This benefits every citizen of Jackson County. We are delivering historic benefits for the community, as well as keeping our nearly $1bn of annual economic impact in the region, including $572.3m every year in Jackson County.”

If the vote would have been successful, the Royals, who guaranteed at least $1bn from ownership for their project, wanted to use its share of the tax revenue to help fund a $2bn ballpark district. 

In terms of the Chiefs, who had committed $300m in private money, the NFL team would have used its share as part of an $800m overhaul of Arrowhead Stadium.

Looking forward, the current lease at Truman Sports Complex, home of the Royals, expires on 31 January 2031. Sherman has said that the Royals would not play at Kauffman Stadium beyond the 2030 season, whereas the Chiefs are hopeful of remaining at Arrowhead Stadium.

“We’ve been talking a lot about the democratic process. We respect the process,” Donovan said. “We feel we put forth the best offer for Jackson County. We’re ready to extend the longstanding partnership the teams have enjoyed with this County.”

This comes at a time of global expansion for the NFL, having grown its Global Markets Programme (GMP) with four new clubs and five new markets last month. 

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