Take a look at Royals stadium proposal in West Bottoms, hovering on MO-KS state line

It was eight months ago that the Chiefs walked into Deutsche Bank Park in Frankfurt, Germany, and for one day were known as the home team.

They had blitzed the market in Germany for a year, though, so I asked a local writer whether it really felt like the Chiefs were the home team. Shortly after the game, he flipped it back, asking if the atmosphere reflected the one in Kansas.

I couldn’t help but clarify that, ahem, the Chiefs don’t play in Kansas — they’re in Missouri.

“Is there a difference?” he asked.

A loaded question, I told him.

Even more so now.

The Kansas Legislature this week passed a plan designed to attract the Chiefs and Royals, with a STAR-bonds-on-steroids proposal as the bait.

If you want a clue as to how serious to take this, look at the quick response from Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas, who told reporters it is a “regrettable” violation of a border war truce.

If there wasn’t already an importance in pointing out the difference in the Chiefs and Royals’ home state from its neighbor down the highway, well, we are on the verge of a distinct line in the sand now.

Albeit one very early-stage proposal is going to attempt to blur that line and bring the two together in Kansas City’s West Bottoms — emphasis, for now, on attempt. Much more on that in a bit.

It’s still to be determined which state provides the next addresses for these teams, and that phrase is even applicable to the teams themselves, but we’d be fools not to consider it a potential game-changer. The Chiefs are privately telling those involved a move to Kansas will get real consideration, multiple sources have told me.

With its latest bill, Kansas has provided an avenue for an extremely, even overly, team-friendly financial option that its Missouri counterparts have expressed not only a reluctance to match but outright doubt.

So even as it’s not yet clear whether the Royals and Chiefs have found their new home, it’s quite evident they have something:

Leverage.

That was the (predictable) uniqueness in this discussion — after the two teams’ initial stadium proposals were rejected by voters, and by a wide margin, they actually gained leverage in their future requests. How often is that the case?

But we all knew Kansas was coming, though I’ll admit some surprise they passed the bill with such flying colors. The House passed it 84-38, and the Senate with a 27-8 margin, which will authorize the state to use STAR bonds to fund up to 70% of the cost for stadiums for the Chiefs and/or Royals.

This is a shot across the bow.

Or down Interstate-70.

How will Missouri respond? That’s the biggest mystery in the aftermath, even among politicos operating there, because key members of its state legislature there have been vocal in opposition to using tax dollars on two stadiums; and Jackson County executive Frank White, who also referenced the border truce, remains steadfast that the last deal, rejected by voters, would need to be improved.

It should be on the teams to navigate the path for their futures — if they deem their current stadiums a problem, it ought to be on them to find the solution. But as Kansas is very publicly absolving them of that responsibility, in Missouri, it apparently would still require threading a few needles.

Which brings me back to the leverage.

It’s the reason, Lucas points out, for the existence of the so-called border war truce — to prevent businesses from using an offer from one state to improve an offer from their neighbors, increasing the cost for taxpayers while the benefit to the region remains the same.

It’s in place because people tend to respond, in other words.

In that vein, the Kansas Legislature passing the STAR bonds proposal will not eliminate other proposals. Instead, it will draw them out of the woodwork. We’ve already seen Jackson County legislator Manny Abarca put language for a Chiefs-only sales tax in front of the legislature.

Let’s talk about another proposal at a much deeper level.

For the other team: the Royals.

A Royals stadium in Kansas City’s West Bottoms?

Developer Robb Heineman and sports stadium architecture company MANICA are offering a vision for a Royals stadium in Kansas City’s West Bottoms, and here’s its particular distinction:

The stadium would sit in both states.

Missouri or Kansas?

How about Missouri and Kansas?

I’ll underscore that Heineman is yet to bring this proposal to the Royals, nor has he yet sought the support of politicos key to its viability — though that’s coming soon. So it’s early. Consider this in that obvious context. And, yes, I understand that’s part of what the release of these renderings in The Star will provide: a gauge of potential interest.

But in a week in which the Chiefs and Royals increased their potential options — or at least one option came into clearer focus, with some tinkering of the fine-adjustment knob still needed — that’s what this is.

Yet one more option. One more proposal.

But a different one than those we’ve seen in the past.

The proposal actually positions the majority of the ballpark in Kansas, just east of the Kansas River and just south of I-670, with the right field bleachers in Missouri or perhaps just tucked inside the border and overlooking downtown Kansas City.

See the rendering for a proposal for a new Kansas City Royals stadium in West Bottoms in KC. The idea sits the stadium on state line.
See the rendering for a proposal for a new Kansas City Royals stadium in West Bottoms in KC. The idea sits the stadium on state line.

The pitch, if you will, does have a certain pizzazz: A player could launch a baseball from Kansas and deposit it into another state entirely.

A shot from Kansas to Missouri.

The irony seems, well, fitting this week.

“It’s an area of downtown Kansas City that’s probably underutilized at this point and has some pretty rich history to it,” Heineman said. “But I think the fact the stadium would be on the state line would be about the most unique thing in sports.”

Heineman said he is in the process of getting the land under contract — the majority likely needed for the big-scale project is currently owned by the Haw family and the Privitera family (owners of the former Kansas City press pavilion at the epicenter of the Royals’ Crossroads proposal that Jackson County voters rejected).

It is enough land, he said, for not only the stadium but to provide the ancillary development that the Royals considered crucial to their last proposal — restaurants, office space, apartments, a hotel and the like.

See the site location proposal for a new Kansas City Royals stadium in West Bottoms in KC.
See the site location proposal for a new Kansas City Royals stadium in West Bottoms in KC.

It also is a close neighbor to downtown Kansas City, the team’s publicly-stated preferred destination. That was the start of this conversation, if you remember — the Royals wanted to move downtown. Wanted to move closer to the action.

Yes, there are complications to this site, as with most sites, that would require some deft maneuvering. Most evidently, it’s been hard enough to generate consensus support from the parties involved, and this would probably need some level of support from state and/or county governments in two states.

The STAR bonds, Heineman says, would represent the starting point for a financial ask, with the ballpark primarily in Kansas.

The ingress and egress would also need to be solved.

This isn’t intended to ignore the hurdles. It is intended to point out a Royals stadium option that will be pointed out to them.

A team that has publicly stated it is evaluating its next move will soon have one more thing to evaluate.

The options have changed.

Will their preference change with them?