Chiefs & Royals will go separate ways on future stadium plans. Here’s what that means

The Royals and Chiefs are in the early stages of determining a Plan B for their stadium futures, and while it’s far too early for any conclusions, there is certain to be one adjustment to the proposal Jackson County voters soundly rejected earlier this month.

They will no longer be tied at the hip.

In either organization’s first public statements since the night an April 2 ballot measure generated only 42% support, Chiefs chairman and CEO Clark Hunt said “it makes sense” for the Chiefs and Royals “to work independently” moving forward.

“The Royals are going to to be looking at options that may not include the (Truman) Sports Complex, and we’ll be doing the same thing,” Hunt said. “So I really think at this point it makes sense for us to go our separate ways.”

That will subtract what was an oddity from the equation all along: The Chiefs and Royals’ vastly different projects required a voter to reach the same decision on both.

What if that voter liked only one proposal?

A shoulder shrug.

Or maybe we found out it was more like a head shake.

That could be one explanation for the landslide result, a theory more than one person involved in the negotiations has expressed to me both before and since the vote. If the Chiefs had gone to the ballot alone, would that have been enough to flip the result, or only enough to alter the margin of the result? That answer, for now, would be subjective.

The objective? As they were seeking a literal separation — the Royals asking for the 3/8th-cent sales tax to help fund a move to the East Crossroads, and the Chiefs looking to renovate Arrowhead Stadium at the Truman Sports Complex — they married their Jackson County ballot initiative.

Whatever is done next, a disconnection needed to be done first. Both lead owners — Hunt with the Chiefs and John Sherman with the Royals — reached that conclusion during a phone call shortly after the election.

Heck, with the way the campaigns played out, perhaps they reached it before Election Day.

Whatever the case, that consequence is now as it should be: Let each project stand on its own merit.

It’s a key development in a situation that has lacked many developments since April 2.

The city of Kansas City has indicated, both publicly and privately, a desire to take on more of a lead role in efforts to keep the teams within Jackson County boundaries after the county — and eventually, the county legislature — led the negotiations in the last round.

But unlike the previous iteration, the Chiefs aren’t committing to staying at Arrowhead Stadium. At least not yet. It’s in play. A possibility. But Arrowhead will likely be a choice rather than the choice.

And I say that while also relaying this: Talks with other jurisdictions, including Kansas, have not gotten off the ground.

“We were obviously very focused on Arrowhead, and as I mentioned earlier, it’s a special place for our fan base. And I believe it could be a special place for our fan base for another 25 years with the right renovation,” Hunt said. “But we’re just going to have to be open-minded in how we approach this. And that may involve a new stadium — it could be an open-air stadium, or it could be a dome stadium.”

Hunt spoke during NFL Draft weekend at the Chiefs practice facility, which made for strange circumstance. A franchise that spent the weekend operating from a place of control for its football future is facing the unknown for its future residence.

The similarity? Both are long-term plays. It’s not likely we will see definitive plans in the coming weeks, but rather months and potentially a year, if not longer.

The outcome is undetermined. But the search for that outcome does not mean either team is seeking to leave Kansas City, even if one or both listen to potential proposals elsewhere. One more point there: It actually does not necessarily mean they will depart from their last plans, even as they depart from each other.

There is a reason the two teams sought these particular plans in their first try. They were the preference. Arrowhead Stadium is “definitely” still an option, Hunt said Saturday, sandwiching mentions of the options for a new build.

The city still has a liking for the Royals’ proposed Crossroads site — though it would need to be far more detailed than a proposal that did not provide the public enough answers to pressing questions before the April 2 vote.

“I really can’t speculate on how any of that is going to turn out,” Hunt said. “Arrowhead is a special place for our family and our fan base. That was one of the reasons that we focused on it with the last effort. But going forward, it may make sense for us to be in a new stadium.”