Lawmakers want the Chiefs and Royals to come to Kansas, but a stadium plan fizzled

May 1, 2024, 2:16 AM

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — 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.

Some critics derided the plan as corporate welfare. Others 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 earlier this month to extend a local sales tax used to keep up the complex housing the Chiefs’ Arrowhead Stadium and the Royals’ Kauffman Stadium for more than 50 years.

The bill’s biggest champion, Kansas House Commerce Committee Chair Sean Tarwater, a Kansas City-area Republican, said supporters want to give the two professional sports teams another option should they contemplate leaving Kansas City, which he said would be devastating to both states.

“You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take,” Tarwater said. “We need them to stay in the metroplex.”

The idea isn’t dead yet.

Kelly and her staff signaled Tuesday that she’s likely to veto the last tax package lawmakers approved, cutting income, sales and property taxes by a total of almost $1.5 billion over the next three years. 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. “I mean, we’re serious about trying to incentivize the Chiefs to come our direction.”

The proposal would allow the bonds to finance 100% of the construction of each of two new professional sports stadiums with at least 30,000 seats. State and local officials would have a year to sign off, and the teams would be on the hook if local tax revenues weren’t enough to pay off the bonds.

“It was just a concern of running it before we gave real tax relief to our constituents — kind of that juxtaposed look of what appears to be corporate welfare before you’re getting tax relief to the people,” Masterson said after deciding against having a Senate vote.

Before the local sales tax vote in Missouri, the Chiefs wanted to use their share of the revenues to help pay for an $800 million renovation of Arrowhead. The Royals planned to use their share to help finance a new, $2 billion-plus ballpark district that would be part of a larger nationwide wave of sports construction.

The current lease lease on the two teams’ complex lasts through Jan. 31, 2031. Royals owner John Sherman has said the Royals will not play at Kauffman Stadium beyond the 2030 season, the Chiefs are hopeful of remaining at Arrowhead Stadium.

“We’ll be in a situation where we go back to the drawing board,” Chiefs owner Clark Hunt told reporters last week. “I do feel very much a sense of urgency, and we will approach it from a broader perspective going forward.”

Backers argue that the Kansas plan is ideal because the money to pay off the bonds would come from new taxes generated only when the area around each stadium develops. Also, professional players will have to pay the state’s income tax on the portion of their earnings made at the stadiums in Kansas.

But Americans for Prosperity-Kansas, a small-government, low-tax group that has long opposed the use of such bonds, also opposed the stadium financing proposal. The group is influential with Republicans and told lawmakers it would consider their votes in evaluating their records.

Critics have long argued that allowing the bonds to finance big projects represents the state picking economic winners and losers instead of the free market. The same kind of bonds have financed multiple projects, including NASCAR’s Kansas Speedway in Kansas City, Kansas.

One northeastern Kansas lawmaker, Democratic Sen. Tom Holland, called the stadium proposal “economic development for millionaires.” He added that it’s “total foolishness” to have taxpayers subsidize the stadiums — either through taxes they pay when they visit or because the state forgoes revenues that would flow into its coffers.

Another northeastern Kansas lawmaker, conservative GOP Sen. Dennis Pyle, said: “We’ve got a lot of priorities in Kansas, and I’m not sure that’s one of them.”

Other lawmakers were critical because the Legislature had no public hearings or debates before three senators and three House members met in public this week to hash out the details of the proposal.

“As much as I would love to see the Chiefs and the Royals both come to Kansas, this is a very large expenditure of tax money that merits careful consideration, not a last minute scheme,” said Democratic state Rep. John Carmichael, of Wichita.


Skretta reported from Kansas City, Missouri.

United States News

Associated Press

Jury in Trump’s hush money case to begin deliberations after hearing instructions from judge

NEW YORK (AP) — Jurors in Donald Trump’s hush money trial are expected to begin deliberations Wednesday after receiving instructions from the judge on the law and the factors they may consider as they strive to reach a verdict in the first criminal case against a former American president. The deliberations follow a marathon day […]

1 hour ago

Associated Press

Appeals court won’t halt upcoming Alabama execution

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — A federal appeals court on Tuesday declined to halt the upcoming execution of an Alabama man convicted in the beating deaths of an elderly couple during a 2004 robbery. The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals denied two separate requests for an execution stay for Jamie Ray Mills, 50. Mills is […]

3 hours ago

Donald Trump speaks to the media as he arrives to court during his trial for allegedly covering up ...

Associated Press

Trump prosecutor focuses on ‘cover-up’ in closing arguments while defense attacks key witness

Donald Trump engaged in “a conspiracy and a cover-up,” a prosecutor told jurors during closing arguments Tuesday in the former president's hush money trial.

3 hours ago

Associated Press

A driver with an Oregon-based medical care nonprofit is fatally shot in Ethiopia while in a convoy

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — A staff member with an Oregon medical care nonprofit was killed when the team he was traveling with in a convoy was fired upon in Ethiopia, officials said Monday. Mustefa Alkisim was a Medical Teams International driver traveling in the insecure Amhara region of Ethiopia Friday when men fired at the […]

6 hours ago

Associated Press

European-Japanese climate research satellite launched from California aboard SpaceX rocket

VANDENBERG SPACE FORCE BASE, Calif. (AP) — A European-Japanese climate research satellite designed to study Earth’s temperature balance was launched into orbit from California on Tuesday. The EarthCARE satellite lifted off from coastal Vandenberg Space Force Base atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket at 3:20 p.m. The satellite was successfully deployed about 10 minutes later, […]

6 hours ago

Associated Press

Former California water official pleads guilty to conspiring to steal water from irrigation canal

FRESNO, Calif. (AP) — A former California water official has pleaded guilty to conspiring to steal water in a deal with federal prosecutors in the state’s crop-rich Central Valley. The Los Angeles Times reports Tuesday that 78-year-old Dennis Falaschi, who used to head the Panoche Water District, entered the plea in federal court in Fresno. […]

7 hours ago

Sponsored Articles


Collins Comfort Masters

Here’s how to be worry-free when your A/C goes out in the middle of summer

PHOENIX -- As Arizona approaches another hot summer, Phoenix residents are likely to spend more time indoors.


Midwestern University

Midwestern University Clinics: transforming health care in the valley

Midwestern University, long a fixture of comprehensive health care education in the West Valley, is also a recognized leader in community health care.


Collins Comfort Masters

Here’s 1 way to ensure your family is drinking safe water

Water is maybe one of the most important resources in our lives, and especially if you have kids, you want them to have access to safe water.

Lawmakers want the Chiefs and Royals to come to Kansas, but a stadium plan fizzled