Hail to the Chiefs! And Pay for Your Own Stadium
If you thought Tyreek Hill getting traded to Miami was going to be the last surprise Chiefs fans got this offseason, you may need to sit down for this. Yesterday the Chiefs organization made news again when its president suggested that the team is considering moving from its current digs in Kansas City, Missouri, to a location in Kansas:
While the team appreciates its history with Arrowhead, Chiefs president Mark Donovan acknowledged on Tuesday that the franchise has considered other options for when their lease expires in 2031. Donovan said that the team has specifically considered options in Kansas, as it has been pitched stadium offers [by] developers in the state, via Kevin Clark of The Ringer.
Upon seeing what Donovan said, Kansas City mayor Quinton Lucas quickly issued a response via Twitter.
“Kansas City has proudly hosted the Chiefs since the early 1960s,” Lucas said. “We look forward to working with the Chiefs, our state of Missouri partners, and local officials to ensure the Chiefs remain home in Kansas City and Missouri for generations to come.”
As a Chiefs fan, the idea of the team leaving the place they’ve called home for 50 years is disappointing. While only Lambeau Field and Soldier Field are older, Arrowhead Stadium is nonetheless an updated and modern (publicly owned) facility that could easily serve fans and the region for many decades to come. But that may be my sentimentality speaking. I was also aghast when the New York Yankees tore down the House That Ruth Built in 2010 and replaced it with the new Yankee Stadium. Old habits die hard.
The good news for Chiefs fans is that the alternate site being discussed is also in the region, albeit across the state line in Kansas. And while public money and tax incentives didn’t come up in the original story, you can rest assured that if the Chiefs made such a move, the package from Kansas would be worth billions. Like I told Pete Mundo the other day, teams wouldn’t threaten to leave if threats didn’t get them more money from taxpayers. It’s certainly the Chiefs’ right to try to get as much money from the public as they can get.
But that doesn’t mean the Kansas City and Missouri governments need to acquiesce. Even if the Chiefs moved to Kansas, the team would continue to be a regional asset and, likely, would still be easily accessible by Interstate 70—in this case, 15 minutes west of downtown in Kansas rather than 15 minutes east of downtown in Missouri. Simultaneously, the Royals have also started talking about a stadium in downtown Kansas City—a good business idea and a bad tax incentive idea! If that’s coming and it gets taxpayer support, it’d put the city on the hook for potentially two new stadiums in the span of about a decade should it keep the Chiefs on Missouri soil, too.
If Kansas wants to spend money to help carry the cost of the region’s professional sports franchises, more power to them. It’s bad policy, of course, but my focus is on Missouri policy and decision making.
As far as Missouri policy is concerned, my perspective for the Chiefs is straightforward: if you want a new stadium in Missouri, build it yourself, as any other business would. I’ll be cheering the Chiefs on wherever they are in the region, and even for a traditionalist like me, I’ll admit that a new stadium may add some excitement to an already exciting team. But there’s no reason to force single moms paying the earnings tax, or frankly any city taxpayer paying any tax, to underwrite such an amenity.
Hail to the Chiefs . . . but with all due respect, pay for the stadium yourself.