Voters defeat 40-year sales tax for Kansas City sports stadiums

(The Center Square) – Kansas City’s professional football and baseball teams promised to stay in Jackson County if a 40-year sales tax to pay for stadiums was approved on Tuesday, but voters rejected the plan.

The Jackson County Election Board’s unofficial results showed 57.8% of voters cast ballots against a three-eighths of a cent sales tax beginning in 2030 and ending in 2070. By almost the same percentage, voters in Kansas City defeated the sales tax to fund a new stadium for Major League Baseball’s Royals and renovations to Arrowhead Stadium, home of the Super Bowl champion Chiefs.

“The people of Kansas City and Jackson County love the Chiefs and the Royals,” Democratic Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas posted on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, after the polls closed. “Over the months ahead, I look forward to working with the Chiefs and Royals to build a stronger, more open and collaborative process that will ensure the teams, their events and investments remain in Kansas City for generations to come.”

Last December, the Jackson County Legislature first reviewed the proposal and voted 8-1 to place the tax on the April ballot. The Royals and the Chiefs pledged in early January to stay in Missouri if voters passed the 40-year tax increase.

In mid-January, Jackson County Executive Frank White, a member of the Royals Hall of Fame and a member of the 1985 World Series Championship team, vetoed the ordinance placing the sales tax on the ballot. The legislature then voted 7-2 to override the veto.

The Royals revealed plans in early January to build a new, $2 billion stadium in downtown Kansas City, approximately nine miles west of their current stadium in the Truman Sports Complex. In late February, weeks after winning the Super Bowl, the Chiefs revealed a renovation for Arrowhead Stadium. Clark Hunt, chairman and chief executive officer of the Chiefs, said his family will pay $300 million of the $800 million cost for the improvements.

The Royals and Chiefs collaborated to form a committee and spent approximately $3 million to pass the increase, according to reports filed with the Missouri Ethics Commission. The campaign emphasized “no one will pay more taxes by voting YES on April 2nd.”

The Committee Against New Royals Stadium Taxes also was formed. It raised approximately $11,511 and spent $9,305, according to filings with the Missouri Ethics Commission.

But White’s public opposition to the tax increase and criticism of the negotiations seemed to gain significant traction. White mentioned the amount the teams invested in the campaign in a request the franchises pay the $1 million cost of the special election, adding the county will have to draw from an emergency fund to pay for “the unplanned and unbudgeted expense.”

“It’s clear that putting the initiative for a new sales tax on the ballot without a mutually beneficial agreement in place was a mistake and not in the best interest of our residents,” White said in a statement on March 20. “Our community deserved a thoughtful, equitable, and transparent approach to these public investments—one that prioritized the overall well-being and fiscal health of the county and our residents.”

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