MLB Commissioner endorses new Royals ballpark

A visit to Kansas City from MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred last week didn’t really make a lot of news, but he did reiterate his support for a new Royals ballpark–no matter where it is located. – By Keith Reichard, Aug. 17, 2023

Team owner John Sherman has promised a decision on a new Royals ballpark by the end of September, as the team debates a smaller Downtown Kansas City location or a larger Clay County location for a new facility and a mixed-use development district. These mixed-use developments are all the rage in professional sports, with The Battery planned as part of a new Atlanta Braves ballpark the working model.

So while it’s no surprise Sherman is pursuing a mixed-use development as part of a new Royals ballpark, many details need to emerge before anyone can make a full evaluation. In the meantime, we had Manfred appearing at a community meeting to tout a replacement for Kauffman Stadium as being good for the team, providing new community amenities while providing more money for the small-market team:

“I think both of them present the opportunity for entertainment-district development around the ballpark,” Manfred said. “I think in our economic system, because of some of the changes I alluded to before, new facilities provide a ball club with revenue-generation opportunities that simply don’t exist in older footprints.”…

Manfred said entertainment districts constructed elsewhere have been financial boons for surrounding communities. He said the Atlanta Braves and Washington Nationals saw increased revenues after each built a new stadium and surrounding entertainment district.

“It’s the power of baseball,” Manfred said. “Eighty-one games changed what that community looks like, all for the better.”

Again, the devil is going to be in the details, and the Royals will need to be prepared to lose some existing customers in order to attract new ones. That means saying goodbye to the older suburban fans who love the acres of parking at Kauffman Stadium and attracting urban dwellers who aren’t dissuaded by the work of reserving a Downtown parking spot.

It means telling fans who grew up with memories generated by the great Royals teams of George Brett and Dan Quisenberry that better days are ahead with a new ballpark and environment generating the revenue to compete in today’s game. Those transitions are always awkward.

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