Campaign for new downtown KC stadium could be led by fans, not politicians

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- There's an obscure, citizen-led mechanism that could pave the way for the long-debated downtown stadium for the Kansas City Royals (and possibly the Chiefs).

With a new owner in place for the Royals, discussion of a downtown stadium is heating up once again.

Although there seems to be little appetite among local leaders to make a downtown stadium a top priority, there is one mechanism to bankroll a project that could be spearheaded by taxpayers and fans.

“Turns out, if you wanted to do it by sales tax, there’s a group already in place that could handle it and already has authorization to go to voters,” said Dave Helling, a KC Star columnist and FOX4 contributor.

In an editorial this week, Helling explained a process using the little-known Bistate Commission.

It’s a taxing entity that allows voters in both Johnson County, Kansas, and Jackson County, Missouri, to gather petition signatures that could put a sales tax issue before voters on both sides of the state line.

“If you really wanted to do it, there is a way that you might do it,” Helling said. “Now whether it will happen or not is another huge question, but the mechanism is there.”

The last major project supported by a sales tax through the Bistate Commission involved renovations to Union Station.

Helling concedes the method is a long shot, but it would effectively remove politics from the public debate over building a new stadium.

He estimates a quarter-cent sales tax, over 30 years, could generate $1.5 billion.

“It’s a heavy lift, but it isn’t impossible. It isn’t completely out of the question that this could be at least on some people’s agenda going forward," he said.

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