Chatter about the Kansas City Royals moving to a new downtown stadium isn’t new. It’s been a recurring hope for fans of the team — and of Downtown — for the past 20 years.
But it’s a whole new ballgame when it comes to the current discussion.
The Royals now are owned by a group that’s practically a who’s who of area business, civic and philanthropic leaders. Team Chairman and CEO John Sherman not only confirmed in September that the team was evaluating options, but expressed the need to have “a positive impact on the quality of life for our citizens in Kansas City, with a particular focus on those underrepresented parts of our community.”
And that community — particularly Kansas City’s Downtown — no longer is the cellar dweller of the early 2000s that looked at baseball as a way to regain relevance.
“I think we’re there today, absolutely,” said Bill Dietrich, CEO of the Downtown Council of Kansas City, citing a baseball stadium’s potential to become an accelerant for new development on top of more than $9 billion in private dollars already invested.
“It’s a very different conversation because you are a much more mature and ready-to-go Downtown. Now, (a ballpark is) an additional amenity in an amenity-rich environment, whereas 15 to 20 years ago, you weren’t.”