Kansas City ballot measure for new Royals stadium, Chiefs renovations fails hard at polls

KANSAS CITY, MO - SEPTEMBER 23: A general exterior view of Arrowhead Stadium is seen during an NFL game between the San Francisco 49ers and the Kansas City Chiefs on September 23, 2018, at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, MO. (Photo by Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

The Chiefs and Royals are both figuring out stadium plans for the future. (Photo by Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

A ballot measure that would have helped fund a new stadium for the Kansas City Royals and renovations for the Kansas City Chiefs’ Arrowhead Stadium failed Tuesday.

Question 1 in Jackson County failed to pass by a margin of 58% to 42%, with 56,606 voting yes and 78,352 voting no, per the Kansas City Star. The measure would’ve extended a 3/8-cent sales tax for 40 years to help cover a proposed $1.3 billion stadium for the Royals and an $800 million renovation of Arrowhead Stadium.

Instead, both teams will go back to the drawing board as they figure out their futures in Kansas City.

Kansas City mayor Quinton Lucas said he looked forward to working with the Chiefs and Royals on a new plan.

The Royals also acknowledged the voters’ decision, releasing a statement from team owner John Sherman that said the team would “reflect on and process the outcome.”

Less than two months earlier, the Royals unveiled plans for a new stadium in downtown Kansas City’s East Crossroads neighborhood. The team currently plays at Kauffman Stadium, which is MLB’s sixth-oldest stadium, having opening in 1973, and is located across the street from Arrowhead Stadium.

The planning process has been fluid since the reveal, with the team saying it would change from its plan to close Oak Street just last week. That clearly wasn’t enough for voters, and now the team might have to change plans even more.

The Royals and Chiefs pushed hard for the passage of this tax, combining to spend more than $3 million via The Committee to Keep the Chiefs and Royals in Jackson County.

Usually, a request for public money comes with the explicit or implicit threat that the team could leave town if it doesn’t get what it wants (e.g. the Royals’ division rivals). Neither team has gone that far, though, and both have leases that will keep them in their stadiums through at least 2031. If a move were to come, crossing the state line from Missouri to Kansas would be the natural choice.

It’s worth noting Sherman is a Kansas City native and has signaled he isn’t interested in leaving the Kansas City area.

Voters were reportedly turned away for wearing Chiefs, Royals gear

One odd quirk of voting Tuesday came via reports that voters were being turned away from the polls for wearing Chiefs and Royals gear. The Committee to Keep the Chiefs and Royals in Jackson County released a statement midway through voting noting that such actions were illegal:

“We are disturbed and disappointed to hear reports of voters being turned away at the polls for wearing Kansas City Chiefs and Kansas City Royals licensed gear. This is a clear violation of both Kansas City and Jackson County voter laws. While poll workers are prohibited from wearing Chiefs and Royals licensed gear, voters are within their rights to wear team logos when they go to the polls.”

It’s unclear how many voters were turned away or told to change, but it probably wasn’t enough to explain a 21,746-voter margin.

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