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North Kansas City mayor makes pitch to land the Royals

Could the Royals move north of the river?

North Kansas City
By The original uploader was Americasroof at English Wikipedia. - Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons., CC BY-SA 3.0,

The Royals announced last fall they would seek a new downtown stadium with a surrounding ballpark district, and since then they have studied 14 sites in the urban core as a potential location. Two of these sites are north of the river in the city of North Kansas City, in Clay County. Today, North Kansas City Mayor Bryant DeLong went public with his intent to land the Royals.

The Royals confirmed in a recent media report that they are considering a location in North Kansas City. We think it is important that we communicate our efforts with the community, and the reason we plan to work with the Royals on behalf of our respective jurisdictions to select a North Kansas City site for the planned new stadium. Although no agreement has been reached by either Clay County or North Kansas City to take action on, we are striving to lay the groundwork necessary for a plan that is positive for the city, the county and our entire community.

DeLong says that in North Kansas City fans “can enjoy best-in-class sports experiences and “live-work-play” in a thriving and safe urban ballpark neighborhood....while still viewing and being seconds away from Downtown Kansas City.”

Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas responded with a Twitter thread in which he stated that “having already signed onto a border war truce with our Kansas neighbors, Kansas City will not now engage in an intrastate regional race to the bottom that ultimately does little more than fleecing our taxpayers.”

As for where exactly the stadium could go in North Kansas City, one potential site in North Kansas City the Royals have considered is an industrial site of 30 acres just across the river, east of the Heart of America Bridge. But the more likely site in North Kansas City sits between Armour Road and 15th Avenue, from Swift to Howell near the Iron District development.

Downtown development writer Kevin Collison writes that the Armour Boulevard site has emerged as “the most likely backup for a proposed Royals ballpark should a deal strike out at the East Village downtown site” after Merrimans of Financial Holding Corp. assembled 100 acres in North Kansas City. Their chair, Michael Merriman, is a close friend of Royals owner John Sherman.

North Kansas City is a city of 4,500 people and any public financing would have to come from Clay County, a sprawling suburban and exurban county with less than half the population of Jackson County. The Royals were expected to ask Jackson County for an extension of the 3/8 cent sales tax approved in 2006 that financed the last stadium renovations, but that will not happen if the team moves to Clay County. The Royals have put a price tag on a new stadium plus ballpark district with restaurants, hotels, shopping, and housing at $2 billion.

North Kansas City has ample land for a ballpark district and parking and does sit close to downtown Kansas City, but currently lacks traffic infrastructure for a MLB stadium. It does provide access to two major highways - Highway 9 which runs to the Northland, and I-35, which runs north and south through the metro and provides access to I-70. The city council has discussed potential improvements to the ramp to I-35 with the Missouri Department of Transportation.

East Village, which sits on the east side of the downtown loop near government buildings and the headquarters of J.E. Dunn, has been considered the most likely site for a downtown ballpark, and Sherman admitted the team had studied that site the most. The location of the former Kansas City Star printing press, a site near 18th and Vine, a site east of the T-Mobile Center, and a site south of the River Market are among the others that have been considered. Sherman has indicated they have narrowed the list to five sites, but have not indicated which five.

Thoughts on the Royals potentially moving to North Kansas City? Is that better or worse than the downtown loop?