Stadium backers must come up with $30 million for immediate repairs

Friday, November 5th 2004, 8:23 pm
By: News On 6

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) _ Kansas City learned the initial price tag Friday for rejecting a $600 million ballot initiative to renovate its two professional sports stadiums.

The Jackson County Sports Authority said it must come up with $30 million immediately to pay for repairs required over the next two years in its leases with the Kansas City Chiefs and Royals.

Without those repairs, authority members said, the teams could argue their leases are invalid, which could open the door to them leaving for other markets.

Authority chairman Dick Berkley added that with only $5 million in reserves and a majority of its $11 million annual budget already spoken for with debt payments and maintenance, the authority will likely turn to area taxpayers and fans for the difference.

``We're going to need in the near future some additional revenue,'' Berkley said. ``That's just the real world.''

Friday's meeting came three days after a majority of metro area voters defeated a quarter-cent sales tax proposal that would have generated $1.2 billion, half going to renovations at Arrowhead and Kauffman stadiums and half going to area arts programs.

The teams have said following the vote that they don't plan to leave Kansas City and will work with the authority to have renovations completed. But they have also said they now must consider other options for when the leases expire in 2014.

The authority's architects on Friday unveiled a scaled-down group of projects meant to address immediate problems in the 1970s-era stadiums. The projects range from replacing wiring and plumbing and other widespread structural renovations to landscaping improvements and even new booths for parking lot attendants.

Berkley stressed that the list does not include some of the big-ticket items, such as wider concourses, a new scoreboard for the Royals and more luxury suites, that the teams say they need to remain competitive with other stadiums around the country.

He said those projects will be tackled after the immediate needs are met.

In the meantime, the authority said it plans to create two committees, one made of residents and the other made of professional architects and engineers, to come up with ways to pay for the projects.

Board member Mike Smith even extended an olive branch to members of the coalition that helped defeat the ballot proposal, some of whom have pushed to move the Royals to a downtown stadium.

``I don't care how we do it, we gotta keep these teams,'' Smith said.