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KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Kansas City Chiefs plan to begin discussing the future of Arrowhead Stadium within the next year after the neighboring Royals announced plans earlier this year to explore moving to a new downtown ballpark.
Chiefs chairman Clark Hunt said during his annual midseason availability Thursday that Royals owner John Sherman called him to discuss the baseball team's plans. Kauffman Stadium sits just across the parking lot from Arrowhead Stadium in the Truman Sports Complex, which is surrounded by sprawling parking lots just outside of Kansas City.
“Obviously we've been connected to the Royals for almost 50 years now here at the sports complex,” Hunt said, “so their decision on their long-term future will have an impact on us. We're going to watch as they go through the process and at some point in the next year or so start thinking about what's next for the Chiefs from a stadium standpoint.”
The Chiefs and Royals both renovated their stadiums about a decade ago, when Jackson County voters narrowly approved a three-eighths cent tax hike lasting 25 years. Both teams agreed to extend their leases at that time, meaning they will expire in 2031, and stadium construction projects typically take at least five years to plan and finance.
The renovations to Arrowhead Stadium included the widening of concourses, new restrooms and new press box and luxury seating that Hunt said made the facility “one of the finest stadiums in the league” when they were completed.
But in the past two years, the AFC West-rival Raiders and Chargers have opened luxurious new stadiums. And while Chiefs fans love the raucous atmosphere of Arrowhead Stadium — which opened 50 years ago next August — and the huge parking lots make for some of the finest tailgating in the NFL, the reality is the facility already appears outdated.
"The way fans want to consume the game and the kind of spaces that you need, those things change over time," Hunt said, "and we're paying attention. We've had beautiful new stadiums open now in Los Angeles and Las Vegas, and there will be things when we get to the end of our lease here in nine or so years that we will want to incorporate into the stadium.”
There has been momentum in recent years for the Royals to relocate downtown, where Kansas City has been in the midst of a dramatic urban renewal. Not only would it position their stadium close to restaurants and bars, of which there are none at the Truman Sports Complex, it also would allow more fans to attend games using public transportation.
Those considerations don't really extend to the Chiefs, where part of the allure of Arrowhead Stadium is the tailgating. And if the Royals were to move, Hunt said the Chiefs could build out the complex to provide additional fan amenities.
“One of the great things about the sports complex is how big it is and that’s created the opportunity for our fans to have the tremendous tailgate experience that they have before the game each week,” he said, "so we’re fortunate to have that kind of built-in experience already. Obviously if the Royals weren’t playing at the sports complex it would open up more space and maybe allow us to do some more programing that we haven’t done in the past.”
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Dave Skretta, The Associated Press