Law firm hired to negotiate with the Royals and Chiefs as new ballpark decision looms

The Hardwick Law Firm will represent Jackson County taxpayers in lease negotiations with the Royals and Chiefs.

The county legislature on Monday voted to pay the Kansas City firm up to $100,000 for “sports teams negotiations.” The Royals precipitated those talks by announcing the team’s desire to move out of Kauffman Stadium before the expiration of its lease on Jan. 31, 2031, and move to a new stadium in either North Kansas City or the East Village area of downtown Kansas City.

Any change in the Royals’ lease has an impact on the Chiefs’ lease. Jackson County voters approved a county-wide, three-eighths-cent sales tax in 2006 to pay for renovations to both stadiums at the now 51-year-old Truman Sports Complex.

Five law firms responded to a request for qualifications and Hardwick was the most qualified, county counselor Bryan Covinsky said.

The Royals have said they will soon announce their preferred location for a new taxpayer-subsidized ballpark that would cost $1 billion. The team says $1 billion in private funds will pay for construction of adjacent commercial real estate development.

The team wants the Jackson County tax extended to pay for part of the stadium, if it’s built in Kansas City. If North Kansas City is the choice, the county and Royals would need to negotiate terms for the team to leave Kauffman before the end of the lease.

Clay County voters would be asked to approve a sale tax if the team moves there.

The Chiefs have said they’d prefer to stay at Truman by either renovating Arrowhead Stadium or building a new stadium there. Moving elsewhere in the metro is another option.

Royals owner John Sherman is set to meet Wednesday with Jackson County Executive Frank White and Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas to discuss the stadium.