Advertisement

KC groups ask Royals and Chiefs for millions in community perks as stadium vote nears

With the stadiums tax election just over a month away on April 2, the Royals and Chiefs have yet to wrap up negotiations with a broad array of community groups who want something in return for the hundreds of millions of tax dollars that would help pay for a new Royals ballpark and proposed Arrowhead Stadium renovations that the Chiefs will preview for the first time on Wednesday morning.

Initially that roundtable included social justice groups, affordable housing advocates, organized labor and groups pushing for benefits that would uplift people who are economically disadvantaged in the city.

More recently, the Crossroads Community Association has become a participant in those talks as it represents the businesses and property owners that would be displaced if the Royals end up building a new stadium at a site that was announced only two weeks ago.

And that’s not a complete list by any means.The Kansas City Public School District wants a say because of the tax dollars it would lose were a tax-exempt ballpark built in the East Crossroads.

The groups want a community benefits agreement included in the teams’ lease deals with the county.

The Jackson County officials who put the sales tax measure on the ballot had hoped to have the terms worked out by mid-February, and certainly by the end of the month. But the chances of making that deadline aren’t looking good, key players in those talks say.

“I would be very surprised,” said one of them on background.

The Good Jobs and Affordable Housing for All Coalition, which is made up of local labor, faith, civil rights and social service organizations and has a focus on affordable housing, living-wage union jobs and workplace benefits like child care, is holding a public meeting Thursday evening to give an update. It starts at 6:30 at St. Mark Hope and Peace Lutheran Church.

But a spokesperson for that group said the discussion is unlikely to get into a lot of specifics. Not the kind of detail, anyway, that’s in a document marked “confidential” that The Star obtained this week that was prepared by the Jackson County-sponsored Community Benefits Coalition.

That group is separate from the Good Jobs Coalition, but the eight-page summary contains a good deal of what Good Jobs and other interest groups want in a community benefits agreement, two sources familiar with the document told a reporter.

Gwendolyn Grant, president and CEO of the Urban League of Greater Kansas City has been coordinating the Community Benefits Coalition. She declined comment Tuesday on the document, saying it was inappropriate for her to discuss the coalition’s work before it’s finished and expressed frustration that someone would leak it before an agreement is reached with the teams.

“It makes it difficult when everybody’s got these agendas, and playing all these different angles,” she said. “My primary concern is that we try to get to a transformative CBA that’s going to be in the best interests of our community.”

The Royals and Chiefs have not commented about community benefits for their projects other than to say they are both in favor of achieving fair ones ahead of the election in which they hope to win a majority on ballot Question #1, approving the sales tax.

“CBA efforts continue,” their campaign committee posted Monday on X, formerly Twitter, on the @YESOn!JacksonCo account.

Jackson County legislator Manny Abarca spoke in June at a rally in support of a strong community benefits agreement being signed as part of lease agreements for a new Royals ballpark.
Jackson County legislator Manny Abarca spoke in June at a rally in support of a strong community benefits agreement being signed as part of lease agreements for a new Royals ballpark.

Focus on workers and wages

The document The Star obtained is only the latest proposal. Negotiations with Chiefs and Royals continue.

But it gives a flavor of what is at stake. It places a big emphasis on improving the standard of living for people who will help build and work at a new ballpark.

For instance, it asks that the Royals hire half of the team’s non-athletic workforce during and after construction from specific ZIP codes where there’s been a history of unemployment and under employment.

The proposal also wants the teams to establish a $5 million loan guarantee fund to provide low-interest auto and home-improvement loans for residents and workers at both stadiums aimed at building wealth in Black and Hispanic communities.

It asks that the teams develop a climate policy for the new stadium that would limit its carbon emissions and work with stadium vendors to increase recycling and limit solid waste.

As part of that green initiative, the coalition wants both teams to work with the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority to set up shuttle service for workers to get to the stadiums on game days, as well as better public bus service to the stadiums that would include spending at least $1 million each on transit-oriented improvements on site and contribute an equal amount annually to the KCATA.

Among other financial demands, the coalition wants the teams to each contribute $3 million a year to anti-violence initiatives, $1 million annually for parks development and improvements and $1 million each year to nonprofit social service agencies now funded through Jackson County’s outside agencies fund.

Here’s a look at some other areas the benefits proposal aims to tackle:

Affordable housing

The proposal asks that if the teams develop any new housing as part of their projects that 30% of those units be for low and moderate income residents, and that they remain affordable to people meeting those income guidelines for the 40-year life of the sales tax. It also asks that 30% of those affordable units have two bedrooms, 30% have three bedrooms, 15% have four bedrooms and all of them share the same amenities as the market rate units next door to them.

It goes on to demand that the Royals build one unit for every unit demolished for the stadiums and associated development.

But perhaps the biggest ask in this category calls for the Chiefs and Royals to each put $50 million initially – and $5 million a year thereafter for the life of the sales tax – into a fund to address displacement and affordable housing in the community.

The fund would be administered by a private, nonprofit agency committed to affordable housing.

Child care

The proposal calls for the Royals to provide affordable child care on site or within a quarter mile of the stadium in a 24-hour child care facility big enough to serve at least 250 students. It calls for the Chiefs to provide a similar service on site or within a half mile of Arrowhead that would be open during normal business hours.

During renovation and on game days, the facility would need to be open two hours before and two hours after workers’ shifts.

Diversity

At least 40% of expenditures before and after construction would be allocated to minority business enterprises and 10% to businesses run by women. Among other things, the proposal also asks that the teams partner with a financial institution to offer working capital loans to small businesses run by women, minorities, veterans and disabled veterans.

Education

It asks that the teams invest $3 million annually for the duration of the sales tax “in community-based organizations that provide supplemental education support services for urban youth, to accelerate student achievement in reading, math, language arts, and science.”

Both teams would coordinate with school districts within 10 miles of their stadiums to provide coaching clinics and fundraising opportunities, as well as free use of the stadiums for at least two events each year.

Whatever ends up in the final community benefits agreements, those requirements and promises will become legally binding as addenda to leases the teams would sign with Jackson County, which would own both stadiums as it does now Arrowhead and Kauffman stadiums.

Those lease agreements have not been finalized but, like the CBA, were due to be completed by the end of the month.