Kansas lawmakers working to lure ‘pro sports’ team with stadium

TOPEKA, Kan. — Less than 48 hours after Kansas City Chiefs CEO Clark Hunt suggested the team would consider all their options, including the possibility of a new domed stadium, the Kansas Legislature is moving to deploy a tool to attract the team and or the Kansas City Royals.

The last minute proposal to revise the STAR bonds that helped build Kansas Speedway and Children’s Mercy Park comes as lawmakers near the end of their veto session. It doesn’t name a team.

The reality is that for many lawmakers in Kansas, saw the result of the April 2 vote out of Jackson County and felt a few different ways.

Fears that teams could leave and hopes that Kansas might have something to offer.

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One day left in the Kansas veto session and lawmakers are still making moves.

One plan, gutting stalled insurance legislation and replacing the bill with one that would incentivize teams like the Chiefs or the Royals to come over the state line.

Stilwell Republican Rep. Sean Tarwater said they don’t want to lean back and watch what happens next.

“Well there may be a good chance that the Kansas City metropolitan area will lose one or both teams because of the tax vote that happened,” he said. “Our target would be to bring one or both of them over if we possibly could to make sure they stay in the metropolitan area for the next 30-40 years.”

The idea on the table. Making STAR bonds more lucrative temporarily, luring a team with a stadium and collecting the state taxes and revenue from the assumed bump in activity.

“Well I believe they made a statement that they’re looking at all their options. We just want to be one of them and we want to be the most lucrative option,” Tarwater said. “We have not had any conversations with the teams. But, just in the case, we want to make sure we have the right tools. And hopefully we’ll get to a conference sometime today and make some changes to the STAR bond law to make it more amicable for them.”

“There’s already significant language for sports venues. But for something this big we’re going to try to make a few changes and have them be temporary so in the case that we can lure them over, we can,” he continued. “But that all is still being negotiated and hopefully we’ll have something done by the end of the day. The goal is to get it done today.”

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Hunt addressed the media over the weekend as part of the NFL draft. But most of the focus was on his remarks on a possible new stadium.

The CEO and chairman told reporters the Chiefs will look at all of their options, saying they’re disappointed with how the April 2 stadium vote turned out.

Certainly, the Jackson County Legislature doesn’t like that possibility. They want the team to stay where they are.

“We’re just going to have to be open-minded in how we approach this and that may involve a new stadium, and it could be an open-air stadium or it could be a dome stadium,” Hunt said.

The Chiefs have six-and-a-half years left on their lease at the Truman Sports Complex, meaning the clock is ticking on whether they stay and renovate Arrowhead, or move out-of-state to Kansas.

“Now that they’re openly talking about it, I think that’s an opportunity for us to revisit, well, can Truman Sports Complex work maybe post-2031,” Jackson County Legislator Manny Abarca said.

On Saturday, Hunt said Arrowhead is definitely still an option, but that they’ll work independently from the Royals.

“We just need to work as quickly as possible. That’s not something that happens in weeks, it’s months and years to find the right solution,” he said.

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“I think there can be an opportunity for a return to a ballot. Voters do deserve to have their voices heard, and what I’ve taken from that election is they wanted more details. So, maybe we can get there,” Abarca said.

FOX4 asked Abarca when voters might have another opportunity to vote on separate ballot issues for both teams. He said that would be the August ballot, just four months away.

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