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Kansas City Royals Downtown Ballpark Targets Crossroads Project Includes Six Blocks Near Power & Light District, T-Mobile Center

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Above image credit: A view looking north from the proposed Kansas City Royals ballpark with the downtown skyline in the background. (Courtesy | Populous)
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5 minute read

The Kansas City Royals have formally announced plans to build a new downtown ballpark at the nexus of the East Crossroads and Power & Light District. 

After previously listing the East Village and North Kansas City as finalists, club owner John Sherman said the protracted ballpark negotiations offered time for a second look at a 17.3-acre site at the southeast corner of Truman Road and Grand Boulevard. The targeted site is dominated by the now-vacant Kansas City Star printing plant completed in 2005.  

“As this process went on a little longer than we had hoped, it allowed time for creative ideas to percolate,” Sherman said at a press conference announcing the team’s choice. 

“This site began to emerge through a combination of some creative people, some forward-thinking, the vision of the mayor and some real estate people.  

“I love this location. I think if you think about the park, and you think about walking north into the Power & Light District or walking south into the Crossroads…this is really what baseball is all about.”  

The proposed 34,000-34,500-seat ballpark would be open for the 2028 baseball season if Jackson County taxpayers approve an extension of the current 3/8-cent sales tax for sports facilities on April 2.  

The six-block site for the proposed $2 billion ballpark and associated mixed-use development would be bounded on the west by Grand Boulevard, east by Locust Street, north by Truman Road and south by 17th Street. 

Site map for the proposed Kansas City Royals stadium downtown.
The site map for the proposed downtown Royals ballpark also includes two city blocks for mixed-use redevelopment east of the stadium. (Courtesy | Populous)

Team officials touted the location as the best way to leverage earlier downtown investments, including the Power & Light District, which still receives an estimated $10-12 million annual subsidy from the city.  

The entertainment district was developed by the Cordish Cos. of Baltimore and began opening in 2007.  

“We’ll bring two, hopefully, three million fans to the ballpark, which will benefit the Power & Light District,” said Brooks Sherman, Royals president.  

“We think we’re a connector to the Crossroads and our presence enhances that.” 

The Royals also believe the proposed location will be a catalyst to extending the planned South Loop Park above the Interstate 670 freeway an additional three blocks beyond the four already planned, extending it to Locust. 

Right now, the $200 million-plus project being spearheaded by the Downtown Council is planned to extend from Wyandotte Street to Grand. About half of the funding has been raised.  

How another three blocks would be paid for was not identified at the press conference, and the concept was considered aspirational. 

“With this investment in the stadium and other development, we think there’s a way that we’ll get there with financing to get the rest of that done,” Brooks Sherman said. 

A view looking west from the proposed Kansas City Royals ballpark that includes a proposed park atop the south side of the downtown freeway loop.
A view looking west from the proposed Kansas City Royals ballpark that includes a proposed park atop the south side of the downtown freeway loop. (Courtesy | Populous)

One of the big challenges for the chosen site, which had not been a significant issue with the East Village or North Kansas City options, is assembling the land.  

The Royals say there are about 20 property owners in the area, the largest being the Church of the Resurrection at 16th and Grand, and an entity controlled by the Privatera family that owns the former Star press building. 

The massive green glass and copper-clad press building, which occupies two blocks, opened in 2005 at a cost of about $200 million and was touted as contributing to the downtown revival at the time. 

But the steep economic decline of the newspaper industry prompted the McClatchy Co., The Star’s owner, to first sell the building to the Privatera family in a lease-back deal in 2018.  

In 2021, The Star ceased printing locally and transferred the work to Des Moines, leaving the building vacant. The owners have been searching for a buyer for the unique structure ever since. 

While they haven’t reached a deal with the Royals, Rosana Privitera Biondo couldn’t conceal her glee at the Royals’ decision. 

“We’re smiling from ear to ear with this wonderful announcement,” she said. “We’re having conversations and we’re confident everything will move forward.” 

A view looking south from the proposed Kansas City Royals ballpark to the Crossroads and Crown Center.
A view looking south from the proposed Kansas City Royals ballpark to the Crossroads and Crown Center. (Courtesy | Populous)

On the other hand, VanTrust Real Estate, the firm that has assembled the eight-block East Village site which had widely been considered the frontrunner for the ballpark from the beginning of the process, was disappointed.  

“Are we disappointed that the East Village site was not chosen today? Absolutely,” said Dave Harrison, VanTrust president. “The East Village remains an opportunity for a catalytic project to further energize all of Kansas City.” 

Officials at the Church of Resurrection said they looked forward to discussing the future of their current property and pledged that they would remain downtown should it be sold. 

“Our location reflects our love for downtown Kansas City and the Crossroads and our desire to have a positive impact in the heart of our city,” said church spokesperson Cathy Bien.  

“In the days ahead, we will continue to be in conversation with the Royals. We are committed to being in the Crossroads and downtown Kansas City and to having a positive impact for generations to come.” 

The general financial description of the ballpark deal has remained unchanged. It’s still being described as a $2 billion plan, roughly half for the ballpark, and the rest for development around it. 

Brooks Sherman said that the proposed development would include a hotel, an office building that would include space for the Royals headquarters and apartments.  

“As owners, we’re prepared to invest privately more than a billion dollars of our own money directly into this project in the Crossroads to make it a success,” he said. 

The Royals say they plan to be the lead developer, but added other partners could be part of the development, among them Cordish Cos. 

Notably, Cordish has developed projects associated with ballparks around the country, including Ballpark Village in St. Louis. 

“We’ve spoken with them,” said Brooks Sherman. ” They’ve been very good for downtown. 

“We do have discussions with them, but no formal agreement.” 

A view of the downtown skyline from inside the proposed Kansas City Royals ballpark.
A view of the downtown skyline from inside the proposed Kansas City Royals ballpark. (Courtesy | Populous)

The Royals emphasized the planned location will cost substantially less in terms of infrastructure improvements, particularly highway access. 

Earl Santee, a principal at Populous, the Kansas City firm expected to design the facility, said there would be 22 different ways to access the location, which would be across I-670 from the T-Mobile Center.  

“You have every choice to make to get here,” he said. 

“The other key thing about this site versus the other sites is…we didn’t need major highway improvements to make the site work.  

“It works with the city that we have the transportation city we have, and it works with the amount of parking we have.” 

Santee estimated there are 9,000 parking spots within a 10-minute walk of the proposed stadium, enough to accommodate the cars expected on most game days.  

The location chosen by the Royals is also about two blocks from the nearest streetcar stop. The East Village site would have been several blocks farther from the streetcar.  

Sherman said the site chosen by the Royals will build on the momentum already existing downtown. 

“I believe in my gut that the timing is right for the Royals to become residents of the Crossroads and neighbors to Power & Light, 18th and Vine and Hospital Hill, helping to further connect the cultural center of our great city,” he said.  

Flatland contributor Kevin Collison previously was founder and publisher of CitySceneKC.

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