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Royals signal intent to move downtown with $2 billion stadium district

Now comes the hard part.

After months of hinting at relocating to downtown Kansas City, Royals owner John Sherman made his strongest indication he intends to pursue a downtown stadium in an open letter to fans released Tuesday.

In the letter, Sherman states his intent to build a “ballpark district” that will “allow for residential, commercial, and community components.” He determines that renovating at the current Truman Sports Complex is not as ideal as building a new ballpark.

When its current lease with Jackson County concludes at the end of this decade, it will be 60 years old. The renovations required at The K to achieve our objectives would cost as much or more than the price tag to develop a new ballpark. A new home would be a far better investment, both for local taxpayer dollars already supporting our facility, and for the Kansas City community.

He envisions “the largest public-private development project in Kansas City history” with a price tag of $2 billion for the entire district with “local restaurants and shops, office spaces, hotels, and a variety of housing opportunities”. Sherman is vague on how it would be financed, only saying “we would not ask Jackson County citizens to contribute any more tax dollars than you already do today.”

The letter does not indicate a site, rather the team will explore several locations, downtown and very close to downtown. A site in the East Loop near the headquarters of J.E. Dunn is considered a leading candidate for a ballpark, but other sites that have been previously reported as under consideration include an area near 18th and Vine, a River Market site, a site around Cambridge Circle off I-35, and even the site of the Kansas City Star printing press. Sherman says the team will seek input from the public over the next few months.

The letter also includes an early rendering of what a downtown ballpark might look like, but the final product will likely look much different.

Sherman will face a skeptical fanbase that still loves Kauffman Stadium and is wary of investing in a ballpark for a team that has been lousy in the standings. But he also has the opportunity to do something franchise-changing and city-changing, that could usher in a new era of Kansas City Royals baseball.


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