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Apr 13, 2024  |  
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 | Remer,MN
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Dave Skretta


NextImg:Chiefs keen to upgrade aging Arrowhead Stadium rather than building anew

ST. JOSEPH, Mo. — The Kansas City Chiefs believe Arrowhead Stadium remains structurally sound and prefer to renovate their famous facility in the coming years, even if the neighboring Royals go through with plans to build a new ballpark elsewhere.

The NFL franchise and its Major League Baseball counterpart have played at the Truman Sports Complex since the early 1970s, when Arrowhead opened just across the parking lot from Kauffman Stadium. Both have undergone massive renovations over the years, the most recent tying them to a new lease with Jackson County that expires in January 2031.

Yet the Royals have made it clear that they intend to build a new stadium, either in downtown Kansas City or neighboring Clay County, and that they are aiming for a spring vote to renew a sales tax that would help to fund the construction.

That leaves the Chiefs to decide whether they will pursue more renovations to Arrowhead Stadium or likewise build anew.

“If the Royals decide to stay in Jackson County, we’ve had discussions about how we do that together. And if they go, then that is a variable and we’ve got to be ready to either continue on that path or pivot,” Chiefs President Mark Donovan said Friday.

“Our team has done a really good job at just being ready. And I feel like we’re pretty well prepared for whatever happens.”

Donovan underscored the preference of chairman Clark Hunt to remain in Arrowhead Stadium, though. It was Hunt’s father, Lamar Hunt, who founded the franchise and relocated it from Dallas to Kansas City for the 1963 season.

“We’ve gone through the process and made some progress there,” Donovan said on report day for Chiefs veterans for training camp. “There are still three viable options on the table that we’ve got to do the due diligence on: renovate-upgrade, build new on-site or build new somewhere else. All three of those options are still part of our dialogue. We’ve learned a lot in this process. The good news is we think the building itself is actually, structurally pretty sound. Which gives us the opportunity.”

“Having said that,” Donovan added, “we’ve learned it’s going to take a significant annual investment to keep that building sound.”

While the Royals would use their share of a renewed tax to fund their new ballpark, the Chiefs would use their share not only for upgrades to Arrowhead Stadium but also to offset the annual upkeep that is certain to rise as the building ages.

Another complication for the Chiefs is the fact that they are due to host World Cup games at Arrowhead Stadium in 2026, and that means some costly alterations to the 51-year-old building over the next three years so that it meets FIFA standards.

“That would be really fast-forwarding everything to try to tie it all together,” Donovan admitted. “The question then becomes, ‘What are we going to do for the World Cup to be compliant to host that amazing event that potentially we could keep or benefit from or not have to redo?’ Versus, ‘We’ve got to make the building requirement-proof for World Cup, and we have to do that absolutely perfect, (but) we also have to play a football season pretty quickly after that, and we want our fans to have the best possible experience.’ So, we can’t really sacrifice the football experience because we did some things for the World Cup.”

While the futures of the Royals and Chiefs are closely linked, they differ in one very glaring way: on-field success.

The Royals began the day with the second-worst record in the majors - with little reason to hope for improvement - resulting in widespread fan apathy toward a $2 billion ballpark and mixed-use village at least partially funded by the public. Meanwhile, the Chiefs are coming off their third Super Bowl appearance in four years and just hoisted another Lombardi Trophy.

“Yeah, it’s a special time to be a part of the Chiefs organization, right? It’s a special time to be a Chiefs fan,” Donovan said. “It’s also a really special time to be a part of this community. We’re proud of being a part of this community and being a contributor to this community. Kansas City is on a really, really good trend when you look at what we’re doing.”