Kansas City Chiefs owner says leaving Arrowhead Stadium an option after sales tax funding was rejected



KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Kansas City Chiefs plan to explore options that include leaving Arrowhead Stadium after voters in Jackson County, Missouri, soundly rejected a sales tax initiative that would have helped to pay for renovations to the 52-year-old building.

The Chiefs and Royals, whose Kauffman Stadium shares the Truman Sports Complex with the football stadium, have relied on a three-eighths cent sales tax for upkeep. The franchises wanted to extend that tax with the Royals using their share of the money for a new downtown ballpark and the Chiefs envisioning an $800 million renovation of Arrowhead.

More than 58% of voters rejected the sales tax initiative after the campaign was met with criticism from all sides.

“Time is short for us at this point and so we need to see what other options are out there for us,″ Chiefs owner Clark Hunt said Saturday. “When we started on this process three years ago, it felt like we had a very long time — a long runway with about 9 1/2 (years) left on our lease. We’re now down to 6 1/2 and so I do feel very much of a sense of urgency.”

Hunt, whose father Lamar founded the Chiefs and helped to get Kauffman and Arrowhead stadiums built, has always preferred to renovate a stadium that his father called one of his favorite places in the world. The Hunt family had promised to spend $300 million in private funds on the renovation with the remainder coming from public funding.

Now, the Chiefs are left to consider overtures from other locations. One of those could be just across the state line, where public officials in Kansas have made it clear that they would love to have the Chiefs on their side of the border.

“Stadium development projects just take a long time,” Hunt said, “and I don’t want to put a specific number on it, but with only 6 1/2 years left on the lease, we’re going to have to work very hard over the next year, year-and-a-half.”

Whatever direction the Chiefs go next, Hunt indicated they would head that way on their own, rather than be tied together with the Royals. That would give the NFL franchise greater latitude to seek the best financing package for itself, whether that means with a renovation of Arrowhead Stadium in mind or a completely new facility elsewhere.

“There’s certainly nothing to preclude us coming back and doing something together,” Hunt said, “but (Royals owner John Sherman) also feels that sense of urgency and I know he’s eager to try to find a long-term solution, which we are as well.”



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