The Royals have promised to reveal a location for their new proposed stadium later this month, but have still yet to disclose details on how the $2 billion ballpark district project will be paid for.
Owner John Sherman has pledged that the $1 billion costs of the district-portion of the project with restaurants, bars, hotels, and shops, will be privately financed. As for the stadium itself, Sherman has promised that Jackson County taxpayers would not contribute any more tax dollars than they currently pay. The team has proposed extending the current 3/8 cent sales tax that pays for renovations to the current Kauffman Stadium and would bring in around $300-350 million. The team will also have “asks of the state and the city” - probably in the form of infrastructure costs and tax credits. But there are still questions on how exactly the rest of the costs of the ballpark district will be covered.
Other cities are going through a similar process. Wisconsin lawmakers are proposing $614 million in public funding to pay for renovations to American Family Field, with the Milwaukee Brewers kicking in $100 million. The state of Nevada will pay $380 million, largely in transferrable tax credits for a new $1.5 billion ballpark district to lure the Athletics to Las Vegas. The Arizona Diamondbacks are currently considering either a new ballpark or renovations to Chase Field and the Tampa Bay Rays have announced plans for a $1.3 billion ballpark, half of which would be funded by the public.
I wanted to take a look at the last few ballparks constructed in baseball and see how they were financed, and how much the public was asked to cover, to see if they could serve as a guide for how much Kansas City taxpayers will be asked to pay.
Globe Life Field, Texas Rangers
Cost: $1.2 billion
Public money: $500 million
In May of 2016, the Rangers and the city of Arlington announced plans for a new ballpark to replace what had been the home of the Rangers since 1994. That November, Arlington voters approved a half-cent sales tax, 2 percent hotel occupancy tax and 5 percent car rental tax to help finance stadiums for the Texas Rangers and Dallas Cowboys. The city’s contribution to the Rangers’ ballpark was capped at $500 million with an agreement the team cannot relocate until 2054 with renewal options that could keep them until 2064. The Rangers secured $600 million in private financing towards the ballpark, to be paid back in part through a 10 percent ticket tax and $3 parking tax and $11 million received annually from naming rights to the ballpark. The Rangers also privately developed a $250 million entertainment district adjacent to the ballpark with the help of The Cordish Companies.
Shenanigans: The Rangers donated a parking lot to the city of Arlington, so the city could lease it back to the team for ten dollars, allowing the team to avoid paying property taxes and shove maintenance costs to the city.
Truist Park, Atlanta Braves
Cost: $722 million
Public money: $300 million
The city of Atlanta refused to pay for renovations to Turner Field due to the costs incurred for a new stadium for the NFL’s Falcons. In November of 2013, the team announced plans to build a ballpark in suburban Cobb County. Despite local opposition, Cobb County commissioners approved $300 million in public funding for the stadium coming from a hotel-motel tax, countywide rental car tax and an additional special service district 3% hotel room tax and 3% property tax. The county also issued $92 million in bonds through the Cobb-Marietta Coliseum and Exhibit Hall Authority, to be paid back through $6.1 million in rent payments from the team. The Braves contributed $330 million in financing and privately developed a $400 million entertainment district known as “The Battery.”
Shenanigans: Ballpark economist J.C. Bradbury issued a report that claimed the county is losing $15 million per year on the ballpark project.
LoanDepot Park, Miami Marlins
Cost: $634 million
Public money: $479 million
Since their inception, the Marlins had played at multi-purpose Joe Robbie Stadium, home to the NFL’s Dolphins, but it was a poor place to watch baseball. In February of 2008, the city of Miami and Miami-Dade County announced plans for a new ballpark for the Marlins on the site of the demolished Orange Bowl. In March, the city commission approved a plan to pledge $13 million in funding for the stadium, $94 million in parking upgrades, and $12 million in infrastructure improvements. That same month, the county commission approved support of $297 million in tourist taxes towards a stadium, $50 million in bonds, and $12 million in infrastructure. The team kicked in $155 million, with $35 million of that in rent, and the team was allowed to retain naming rights revenues, which totaled $10 million per year.
Shenanigans: The county had an agreement with owner Jeffrey Loria to share in the proceeds of the sale of the team, but when he sold the team for $1.2 billion in 2018, he claimed he did not make any money, leading the SEC to launch an investigation.
Target Field, Minnesota Twins
Cost: $554 million
Public money: $355 million
Three stadium bills failed in Minnesota Legislature in the 90s, causing the team to explore relocating to Greensboro, North Carolina only to see a voter referendum on a stadium failing there as well. Another proposal for a ballpark in St. Paul, Minnesota was rejected by voters and the legislature again rejected a stadium proposal in 2001. Major League Baseball began threatening contracting the Twins and Expos, who were also fighting for a new stadium. Owners eventually approved folding the teams only to have a court require the Twins to uphold their lease agreement and play ball. In April of 2006, Hennepin County approved a plan to allocate $350 million towards a new ballpark through a county-wide 0.15% sales tax. The team initially paid $130 million, but added an additional $65 million in infrastructure expenditures. Other public entities contributed $5.25 million to the project.
Shenanigans: To gain support for a new stadium, the Twins ran ads that featured outfielder Marty Cordova visiting sick kids at the hospital and threatening that would not be possible if the Twins left town, but pulled them after just one night after public outcry.
What is the most the public should spend on a stadium or renovations in Kansas City?
All of the costs if necessary
No more than 75 percent
No more than half
No more than 25 percent