Stadium vote goes Royals' way

Stadium vote goes Royals' way

KANSAS CITY -- The Royals' rebuilding program now includes more than a team. It also includes Kauffman Stadium.

A sales tax vote to renovate the Royals' home and the NFL Chiefs' Arrowhead Stadium was approved by Jackson County, Mo., voters on Tuesday night.

The infusion of funds will provide renovations considered long overdue for the Royals to compete in today's baseball market. In addition, Commissioner Bud Selig has promised Kansas City an All-Star Game between 2010 and 2014 after the stadium project is completed.

The vote proved somewhat bittersweet for the Chiefs because a separate question to build a rolling roof between the two adjacent stadiums appeared headed for defeat. That could dash the Chiefs' plans to bring a Super Bowl to Arrowhead.

A rolling roof also was expected to lure an NCAA Final Four to Arrowhead.

But as the renovation question pulled ahead with 53 percent of the reported vote, two father-son duos headed a parade to a stage at the Arrowhead Pavilion, a party room. David and Dan Glass led the Royals' contingent, Lamar and Clark Hunt led the Chiefs' group.

An announcement was promised for 10:03 p.m. CT, just in time for the local TV newcasts. There was no suspense. The on-stage cast was waving victory towels.

After a declaration of victory, owner David Glass made his way through a room full of well-wishers.

"I always believed that it would [pass]. I have this belief that people ultimately do the right thing," Glass said, pausing to talk to a reporter.

"And this is the right thing for Kansas City, and it is the right thing for Jackson County so I never doubted it. We never, ever thought about anything else or what else we were going to do. Kansas City will look back at this and, retrospectively, believe it was really, really a good thing to have done."

The sales tax will raise $425 million over 25 years for the overhaul of the stadiums. The Royals will contribute another $25 million, the Chiefs $75 million and the state of Missouri $50 million in tax credits.

"We believe this was the right deal at the right time," said Mark Gorris, Royals senior vice president of business operations. "There was no other better deal that was going to come along. We knew this was going to be important, and we can't wait to get started."

The rolling roof, which could have been used as a cover for both stadiums, would have received $170 million in financing from the failed use tax question.

Although it was seen primarily as a football amenity, a roof would have prevented rainouts at Kauffman. Even more, it could have increased attendance because fans would have been more inclined to come out in chancy weather or on hot afternoons.

Kauffman Stadium, which opened as Royals Stadium in 1973, will receive widened concourses, a food court, another 100 concession stations, 120 toilets, plus a restaurant and a 9,500-foot open-seat pavilion. More suites also are in the works.

With its fountain spectacular, cozy bowl and acres of parking, Kauffman Stadium has long been considered one of the game's premier venues. However, it was becoming out of date as other cities hustled to build new stadiums and bring in added revenues that could be used to lure top players.

Even now, David Glass is looking beyond the stadium renovations for special additions alongside Interstate 70.

"The next project is not only an All-Star Game but a World Series in Kansas City," he said.

Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.