Editor’s Note: This story has been updated to correct the source of information regarding potential stadium site location.
NORTH KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Clay County leaders are making a play to get the Kansas City Royals to move out of Jackson County and out of Kansas City, Missouri, city limits.
“Absolutely,” Clay County Economic Development Council Executive Director David Slater said when asked if he really thought there’s a chance the Royals could move to North Kansas City. “It’s one of their final site selections.”
Slater believes NKC is one of the five final sites the Royals are considering, and a spokesperson confirmed it is.
“We were presented with an idea in North Kansas City and found it worthy of consideration and exploration. We can confirm that it is among the 4-5 sites we’re actively evaluating,” said Brooks Sherman, president of business operations.
An original power point slide from the team showed 14 different sites around the metro that the Royals were considering. In their second and third public forums early in 2023, Sherman said the Royals had narrowed down those 14 sites to five.
The team hasn’t released the other four sites they’re considering.
When it comes to Slater’s conversations with the team, he told FOX4 on Tuesday he’s only talked to team representatives via email.
“I’m here to support [North Kansas City] Mayor [Bryant] DeLong and his council in this, so most of the communication has gone through him,” Slater continued.
In a phone conversation with DeLong on Tuesday, he confirmed the conversations with the team. Slater told FOX4 the old AMF Bowling Alley between 9 Highway and Interstate 35 is a possible site.
The Kansas City Business Journal also covered the original 14 sites the Royals were considering when news about them came out in December 2022.
“The site map that was demonstrated appeared to show one ballpark site in kind of an industrial area, right north of the river before North Kansas City’s boundary, and then one in downtown North Kansas City on some properties that were sold last fall to a group out of Dallas, a Dallas investment firm, as well as a former bowling alley now owned by Americo Life,” reporter Thomas Friestad told FOX4 on Tuesday.
Slater and DeLong aren’t the only ones who’ve pushed for the Royals to move up north though. On Feb. 28, the Mid-America Regional Council (MARC) discussed transportation at a virtual meeting when downtown baseball came up.
“My comment is about the stadium. Are we thinking about transportation around that?” Overland Park Councilmember Holly Grummert said.
“I’m sorry that would be potentially a stadium downtown?” MARC Assistant Director of Transportation and Land Use Planning Martin Rivarola said in response.
“Not specifically, but [this plan] does look at different modes and percentage of trips that are made into the downtown and surrounding areas but not specially around the stadium itself. We will need to look into that and get back with you.”
Then Clay County Presiding Commissioner Jerry Nolte spoke.
“I just want to follow up and say it might be a little early to assume that location and new stadium would be downtown. There are other options on the table,” Nolte said.
Nolte is on the Clay County Economic Development Council’s executive committee that Slater’s a part of. Nolte, though, isn’t commenting any further. Regardless of the discussions, Slater still believes Jackson County sites like the East Village are ahead of theirs.
“Baseball games aren’t always won until the ninth inning,” Slater said.
One question that comes up is how Clay County would pay for such a stadium.
A 1/2-cent sales tax countywide would be a possibility, according to Slater, and because the Royals wouldn’t have to split that with the Chiefs like they do in Jackson County, that would generate almost as much revenue as the 3/8-cent sales tax extension in Jackson County, he argued. Additional sales taxes though would have to be approved by voters in both Clay and Jackson counties.
“You’ve got to convince people in Kearney, in Excelsior, in Smithville, and Gladstone, Liberty and Pleasant Valley that this is a good deal for the entire county,” Slater said of a potential future vote.