View Full Version : The Chiefs' new chairman, Clark Hunt throws down the gaunlet.

05-21-2005, 11:12 PM
County officials perceive a heightened need for tax
The Kansas City Star

For the first time in stadium improvement talks, one of Kansas City's major teams has raised the possibility of leaving town if the Truman Sports Complex is not renovated.

The Chiefs' new chairman, Clark Hunt, recently told a group of state legislators and local leaders that one or both teams would probably leave Kansas City if Jackson County defaulted on its leases with the teams and the sports complex didn't get a major face-lift soon.

Although the Royals have distanced themselves from that scenario, it is giving Jackson County and local sports officials a new sense of urgency as they try to solve what some are calling a budding stadium crisis.
“That's the first time I've heard an owner state that thought,” said Bill Lucas, a Crown Center executive who leads the Greater Kansas City Sports Commission. “He was definitely raising a red flag.”
Mike Smith, who leads the county's sports complex authority, added: “It's got me real nervous. I would not take it as a threat, but as a message. He's just stating the facts, and the city needs to hear that.”
Now, in the wake of the Missouri legislature's decision not to fund more money for stadium improvements, county and sports officials are starting to meet with the teams to plan a Jackson County tax election sometime this year. The size, scope and even the timetable of any election remains unclear at this point.
“We're leaving all our options open,” said Jackson County Legislator Scott Burnett.

That means the election could be in August or November, although most officials lean toward the latter. It could be for a quarter-cent sales tax or three-eighths cent. And it could last four years, raising an estimated $80 million for minimum maintenance, or go a lot longer and raise hundreds of millions of dollars for renovations such as widened concourses, additional stores and new restaurants.

The ultimate decisions will depend on officials' reading of the political winds and of the teams' desires.

The teams and local sports leaders have already swung and missed three times this decade when attempting to obtain more money for the stadiums — twice with the Missouri legislature and once with a multicounty bistate tax. One additional complication is that both teams' wish lists are more expensive than the improvements included in the bistate package.

Time, however, is slowly running out on the legal tie that binds both the Royals and the Chiefs to Kansas City.

Jackson County has obligations under the teams' leases to maintain the stadiums. But the county has put off so many maintenance projects, citing lack of funds, that it is in danger of defaulting on those leases by the end of next year, even though the leases are supposed to last through 2014.

A default would allow the teams to move.

Earlier this month the Chiefs' Hunt and Royals owner David Glass joined local leaders in making a pitch for the languishing state bill in Jefferson City. At a meeting in the speaker of the House's office, state Rep. Bryan Pratt of Blue Springs told the owners that based on feedback from his constituents, there was no budding stadium crisis because neither team seemed in danger of leaving Kansas City.
That prompted Hunt to reply, according to Hunt and others at the meeting: “If there's no renovation of the sports complex, one or both of these franchises will be gone.”

This week Royals President Dan Glass reiterated — as he had earlier this year — that the Royals did not intend to relocate even if Jackson County ended up breaking the lease. “We're not going anywhere,” Glass said.

Hunt, meanwhile, did not back down from his statement. As owner Lamar Hunt's son, he is taking on a larger role as the face of the franchise.

In an interview this week, he said he meant one or both teams would not be playing in Missouri in 10 years, once the leases were up. The Chiefs are seeking not just Jackson County's required patchwork repairs but also an expansion of Arrowhead that would bump out the exterior walls and possibly add a hall of fame, among other things.

That represents the reality of the big-league sports business today, in which almost every franchise has gotten or wants an updated stadium.
Another sign of discouragement came Friday when the Chiefs pulled a Kansas City Super Bowl proposal that would have come to a vote at next week's NFL meetings in Washington.

The proposal would have granted the Chiefs a Super Bowl sometime between 2012 and 2022 provided that they had a high-quality, roofed stadium and that Kansas City met all the other normal requirements of a host city, including a minimum number of hotel rooms.

The Chiefs may resubmit the proposal later this year or next, but likely will not do so until Arrowhead renovation plans have more definition.
Local officials have taken Hunt's message seriously.

“We need to believe it,” said Kansas City Councilwoman Becky Nace, who heard Hunt's assertion. “He said it and he meant it. We need to attend to our teams. We can't take them for granted.”

Jackson County Legislature Chairman Dan Tarwater added: “What it tells us is the teams have other options. I truly believe they don't want to move, but with all the options out there, they could go to any city in many states across the country.”
Pratt noted that a further concern with the Chiefs is Lamar Hunt's age and recent health problems.

“Clark's taken over, and there's some concern that Clark isn't as committed to Kansas City as Lamar,” Pratt said. “But it's always been my sense in discussions with Clark that he is committed to Kansas City.”
The county and the teams had hoped for more state aid this legislative session. They made a simple pitch: Let stadium users pick up more of the tab for stadium costs. In this case, those users are mainly millionaire ballplayers. Local officials wanted the existing tax on out-of-state athletes and entertainers changed, directing more of that revenue toward stadiums instead of the state's general programs.

In the end, state lawmakers did not pass the bill. Although the teams sweetened the stadium bill by making it contingent on them working out new lease extensions, the move was perceived as too little, too late.
The state was cutting services for low-income residents, so some lawmakers could not justify shifting more money to wealthy sports owners. And many legislators considered the bill a bailout for Jackson County's troubles.

Now it's up to Jackson County to not only avoid default but also possibly bear the burden of upgrading a regional asset.
“This shows you it really is a critical issue that we're looking at and it would be very unwise if we don't put all our time and attention toward trying to work out a solution,” said Jackson County Legislator Dennis Waits.

Stadium repairs • Just to avoid defaulting on its leases with the Chiefs and Royals, Jackson County must make about $36 million in stadium improvements in the short run. Then the county must complete an additional $44 million in repairs by 2014.

05-21-2005, 11:40 PM
wasn't this posted earlier today/yesterday???

It's about time. The player tax failed in MO, The last sales tax for stadiums failed last fall.

Put Jackson Co on notice and MO in general.

These guys are serious about moving to Kansas or somewhere if the leases are defaulted.

05-21-2005, 11:50 PM
wasn't this posted earlier today/yesterday???

It's about time. The player tax failed in MO, The last sales tax for stadiums failed last fall.

Put Jackson Co on notice and MO in general.

These guys are serious about moving to Kansas or somewhere if the leases are defaulted.

I went back 3 pages and then quit looking.

They have a good point. If the nitwits in Jackson County don't do what they said they would do then the deal is off and we will look around for somebody who will do what they say. Somebody will get their chit together better than the County Commisioners. Won't take much effort.

05-21-2005, 11:53 PM
I went back 3 pages and then quit looking.

Try middle of the front page. :)

go bo
05-21-2005, 11:59 PM
Try middle of the front page. :)oh, c'mon ken...

he said he went BACK, didn't he?

05-22-2005, 12:40 AM
Try middle of the front page. :)

:banghead: Sorry dudes and dudettes