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Royals reportedly considering printing press site for downtown stadium

A third stadium site option is reportedly being considered.

Kansas City Star printing press
Creative Commons/Wikipedia

The Royals are already six weeks past their self-imposed deadline of selecting a potential stadium site, and now there are reports they are considering a third site. According to Sam McDowell of the Kansas City Star, the Royals have “re-focused their discussions with notable officials” on the viability of a proposed site at 16th and McGee, the location of the former Kansas City Star printing press. The consideration of that site comes in addition to proposed sites at the East Village and one across the river from downtown in North Kansas City.

The printing press was built in 2006 but was last used by the Star in 2020. The site is currently owned by the Privitera family and sits just south of the T-Mobile Center and Power and Light District. That proximity likely means the Royals would not need to build a new ballpark district. McDowell reports that Royals officials met with Mayor Quinton Lucas and Blake Cordish, the principal of the developer behind the Power and Light District and surrounding luxury apartments.

Much of the infrastructure is already present, particularly parking to accommodate events at T-Mobile Center. There is also a proposal to cap I-670 and cover it with a park, which would better connect Power and Light District with the printing press location. But the area is also built up around the printing press, meaning land acquisition would prove difficult. It is unclear exactly what the Privitera family currently owns, but I have highlighted the printing press in this map here and you can see it is already surrounded by a number of existing businesses.

Can a baseball stadium fit in such a small location? Perhaps if it is incorporated with the park that will cover I-670. But it would likely be a tight squeeze.

McDowell suggests that this site could lower the price tag without a need to build a new district, but with the Royals having pledged to privately finance the district portion of the project, he points out the taxpayer burden would not necessarily be any less. The Royals have asked to extend a 3/8 cent sales tax meant to pay for the 2006 stadium renovations and is set to expire in 2031. That would fund around $300-350 million of a new ballpark, with the rest of the funding for the $1 billion ballpark still unclear.

Without a new ballpark district, it also raises the question of why the Royals even need to relocate. Presumably much of the impetus to moving to downtown was to allow the Royals to create an entertainment district to bring new sources of revenue to allow them to be competitive. Perhaps there is a way they can partner with Cordish on new development south of I-670, but again, the land assemblage seems difficult.

Video released by Mammoth Sports Construction shows what it might look like.

If anything, this suggests that the process of negotiating with public officials is not smooth sailing right now. Last month, the Star reported on a leaked spreadsheet from Jackson County that suggested inflated costs for the downtown ballpark, an analysis some county lawmakers have scoffed at, with accusations that County Executive Frank White has undermined the process. With the Royals already well past their own timeline, and a fast-approaching mid-January deadline to get something on the ballot by April, they are under the gun to get a feasible plan out to the public.