Latest word on KC Ballpark District; open letter from Royals owner John Sherman

Vision for the new home Kansas City Royals ballpark. (Artist rendering.)

By Thomas Friestad, The Kansas City Business Journal, July 25, 2023

The Kansas City Royals will announce the preferred site for a $2 billion new baseball stadium and mixed-use ballpark district in late September.

In an open letter published Tuesday (July 25), Chairman and CEO John Sherman said the team will share an overview of its $1 billion ballpark district in the next 30 days. The overview will include details on the “broad benefits” of its two finalist sites in the East Village area (Jackson County) and North Kansas City (Clay County).

From there, the Royals target late September for an announcement of “which site will best fulfill our pledge to Kansas City to create 1) powerful community impact, 2) generate sustainable economic activity in the county, city, and state, and 3) greater opportunity for the citizens of our region.”

Click here to visit the KC Ballpark District website and to read the open letter from Royals Chairman and CEO John Sherman.

“We are putting both sites through an equally rigorous process,” Sherman wrote in his letter. “We look forward to unveiling detailed renderings and many other components that will help us compare the broad benefits of both sites.”

The East Village includes 17.4 acres bounded by Eighth and 12th streets, and Cherry and Charlotte streets. VanTrust Real Estate LLC, the area’s master developer, recently secured zoning compliance letters — often required as a condition of property acquisitions or refinances — for properties it owns, plus others it plans to acquire from Kansas City. VanTrust said the letters were a standard part of its property due diligence, rather than an indication of imminent activity.

The North Kansas City site includes industrial properties centered around 10.3 acres that formerly housed AMF Pro Bowl Lanes. The Merriman family owns the properties and has continued acquiring sites throughout North Kansas City. With two late June sales, the family now owns at least 98.6 acres, mostly as Armour District LLC.

Royals officials have said the team envisions its ballpark district offering a mix of uses, including residential, office, hotel, entertainment, and food and beverage development. During a recent news conference, Sherman said the district would be laid out more densely and vertically in the East Village and more horizontally at the comparatively larger North Kansas City site.

Of the Jackson and Clay county sites, Sherman highlighted the Royals’ partnership with Jackson County at the Truman Sports Complex and expressed interest in its continuation, by way of an extension of the county’s existing three-eighths-cent sales tax for a new stadium. But he did not shut the door on Clay County.

“We want (Jackson County) to give us their best shot, and we’re going to give them our best shot to do it there,” Sherman said at the June 29 news conference. “But I think we should be clear: There’s certainly an alternative to that idea.”