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Royals, Chiefs: Here’s how to get the whole Kansas City region on board for stadiums | Opinion

I don’t work downtown. I live in Platte County. I only go to the downtown area for an occasional business dinner or a rare night out with my wife.

Yet I love the Royals, and it’s clear that they want a central location for a new stadium, a location where they can develop an entertainment and commercial district. That might still be the Crossroads, but it could be in Clay County or — shudder! — in Kansas. They don’t want to stay at Kauffman Stadium.

I think the Royals, Chiefs and leadership in Jackson County and Kansas City failed to make a convincing argument for the stadium proposal that voters recently rejected. I think if it had been just for improvements at Arrowhead Stadium for the Chiefs, the sales tax would have passed, but the focus of the whole vote was on the Royals’ wishes. That proposal was badly handled.

The Royals’ messaging, timing and bait-and-switch about locations all looked bad. Their failure to drive the conversation sidetracked the Crossroads proposal. This defeat didn’t signal, as some want to believe, that the Royals aren’t wanted here in Kansas City. This city loves its team, but Royals leadership broke the trust many people had with them — and the people responded accordingly.

Let me be so bold as to draw the faint outlines of a new plan.

First, the Royals need to select a site for a new stadium. If it’s still in the Crossroads, fine. Wherever it is, pick a site and stick to it. Talk to nearby businesses and residents who would be affected by the choice. Have 100 public meetings if that’s what it takes to hear all their concerns. Someone who reports directly to team owner John Sherman needs to be at every meeting and Sherman needs to stay available to take those calls.

Second, Chiefs: This is partly your fault. You’re going to front half of your renovation costs? Start talking about it now, even with no vote scheduled. You’re a part of this. Be leaders.

Third, transportation: No, parking in the downtown area isn’t enough, especially not for a 1 p.m. weekday game. Rush hour traffic for 6:00 games the same night as a concert at T-Mobile Arena? That would be a nightmare of Atlanta or Houston proportions.

Kansas city needs connectivity, not more garages and parking lots. The KC Streetcar can’t do that job. We need legitimate, grade-separated transit. Plan alignments that allow people from all of the metropolitan area’s core counties to park well away from the stadium.

Fourth, we must pay for it. I still propose a 3/8-cent sales tax, but have all five core counties vote on it. I know something similar was tried in 2004’s failed Bistate II initiative, but there’s a lot more at stake now. The funds could also benefit whatever public entertainment venues the counties wish to include, such as the soccer stadiums and Legends Field, in addition to the Royals, Arrowhead and the transit system.

Yes, it’ll be focused on the downtown area. Whether we Northlanders or those on the Kansas side like it, that’s the core of this city — and we all need it to be vibrant and energetic.

Fred Maidment is a Park Hill High School alumnus and a lifelong Royals fan. He lives in the Northland with his wife and son.