Royals, Chiefs need to obey taxpayers' wishes
The Kansas City Star
Haven’t we heard this before? A public dispute has erupted over how the Royals and Chiefs are using taxpayers’ funds at the Truman Sports Complex.
For decades professional sports teams have sought plenty of public assistance to build or improve their stadiums. Then they have argued over how the money is used. Unfortunately, elected officials and taxpayers seem destined to endure these games when they decide to subsidize profit-minded businesses that benefit a region.
Currently, Jackson County Executive Mike Sanders is taking the best approach on behalf of taxpayers. He wants to see schedules from the Chiefs and the Royals on how they will use public and private funds to repair Arrowhead and Kauffman stadiums in the future. And he wants to reduce the use of tax revenue for more controversial operating expenses, such as payroll taxes for employees.
Jackson County voters approved a sales tax in 2006 to raise hundreds of millions of dollars upgrades to the sports complex, which is a county asset. Residents expect the teams to abide by their leases, which require the facilities to be kept in tip-top shape. Cutting corners on repairs can’t be tolerated.
The Royals are the bigger concern. The club once again is among the worst in Major League Baseball, with an owner, David Glass, who has inspired little confidence among fans that he will spend the money necessary to bring a winner to town. If the Royals don’t properly maintain Kauffman Stadium, the county’s asset will lose value. Chiefs owner Clark Hunt has had a more positive mindset when it comes to putting a high-quality team on the field and investing more money in enhancing Arrowhead Stadium.
Still, both the Royals and the Chiefs continue to ask for operating funds that Sanders doesn’t think they should get yet. Up to now, the Jackson County Sports Complex Authority has narrowly approved those requests. But this week the county got a new ally on the panel; Steve Bough is expected to help stop that practice.
That should put pressure on the two clubs to spend more money to maintain high-quality stadiums and less on questionable operating expenses. All sides must work together to resolve this war of words.