Chiefs To Explore Options If Stadium Vote Fails

Normally, stadium situations are outside our purview. But the upcoming vote on Arrowhead Stadium renovations — a ballot measure that centers around the Royals’ hopes of securing public funding for a stadium in downtown Kansas City — does provide a bit more intrigue due to recent comments made by Chiefs president Mark Donovan.

While the Royals are the only team that would change venues if the measure — a sales-tax extension set to be voted on Tuesday in Jackson County (Missouri) — passes, the Chiefs have an $800MM renovation package on the ballot. Clark Hunt has said the team will contribute $300MM to this goal. Work would not begin until 2027, after the 2026 World Cup comes to Arrowhead Stadium.

A previous round of Arrowhead renovations wrapped before the 2010 season, but the Chiefs have sent their franchise centerpieces — Andy Reid, Patrick Mahomes, Travis Kelce — out in support via a recent ad that also includes All-Star catcher Salvador Perez and other Royals stumping for the measure to pass. When asked what would happen if it failed, Donovan put the prospect of the Chiefs leaving Kansas City on the table.

I think they would have to include leaving Kansas City,” Donovan said when asked (via KSHB’s Kevin Holmes) about the team’s future related to the vote. “But our goal here is, we want to stay here. And we’re willing to accept a deal for the county to actually stay here.”

The Chiefs’ Kansas City stay predates the Royals, an expansion team that began play in 1969. The Chiefs relocated from Dallas to Kansas City following the 1962 season, leaving Texas shortly after winning the AFL championship. Clark Hunt’s father, Lamar, founded the franchise and orchestrated the relocation. The Chiefs moved into Arrowhead Stadium in 1972.

Beginning as the Dallas Texans, the franchise rebranded as the Chiefs. While the Chiefs appeared in two Super Bowls in the 1960s, winning Super Bowl IV, they drifted well off the contender radar for most of the next two decades before a run of near-misses defined the team during the 1990s and the early part of this century. The Reid-Mahomes-Kelce trio changed the team’s fortunes, and the Chiefs recently joined only the Patriots and Cowboys as teams to win three Super Bowls in a five-year span.

Kansas City mayor Quinton Lucas has endorsed the measure, which notes calls for a tax that would raise nearly $2 billion in public funds. Should the Royals leave their Kauffman Stadium headquarters, located along Interstate 70 east of downtown Kansas City, the Chiefs would expand their footprint via these proposed renovations.

We have a building that will be 60 years old at the end of the lease,” Hunt said, via KCTV5’s Mark Poulose. “We only have seven years left on our lease. Stadium projects take many years to develop. I think it goes without saying, we’ll have to evaluate our options, but at this point, we are very focused on Tuesday.”

The Chiefs and Royals’ lease at the Truman Sports Complex runs through 2031. Hunt and Donovan’s comments would affect a potential Kansas City departure in 2032. An early poll from the Remington Research Group (via KSHB) placed this vote as close, with a 47-46 advantage to the measure passing. Donovan said (via the Sports Business Journal’s Ben Fischer) he is cautiously optimistic the vote will go in the team’s favor.

This certainly could be posturing on the Chiefs’ part, but we have obviously seen these situations devolve into exits. Rumblings about the recent Rams, Raiders and Chargers’ relocations involved near-future moves. The Chargers bolted San Diego for Los Angeles not long after their vote to move into a downtown stadium failed. A potential Chiefs departure not coming to a head for more than five years makes it more of a back-burner issue, but this vote does bring intrigue — especially considering the franchise’s recent success — and will be worth monitoring Tuesday.

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