The Four States NPR News Source
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Crossroads businesses don't want a Kansas City Royals stadium to bulldoze their neighbhorhood

Matt Adkins opened his business, The Pairing, shortly after the onset of COVID. His building would be demolished under the Royals' proposal. Adkins wants people to vote against the April sales tax extension for the Royals to send a message that the team shouldn't put the stadium in the Crossroads.
Savannah Hawley-Bates
/
KCUR 89.3
Matt Adkins opened his business, The Pairing, shortly after the onset of COVID. His building would be demolished under the Royals' proposal. Adkins wants people to vote against the April sales tax extension for the Royals to send a message that the team shouldn't put the stadium in the Crossroads.

The Royals’ recently announced Crossroads stadium and entertainment district would require the demolition of more than a dozen businesses. Many of those owners are now calling on Jackson County residents to vote against April's sales tax measure to send a message to the team.

The Royals want their proposed $2 billion Crossroads stadium and entertainment venue to open in 2028. But first, they’d have to demolish more than a dozen small businesses that surround the old Kansas City Star printing press site, where the stadium would be centered.

The Crossroads choice was a surprise to many business owners — it was not on the team’s shortlist of locations last fall.

The stadium’s footprint sits on historic buildings and small businesses from Truman Road to 17th Street and McGee Street to Oak Street.

Sports Kansas City Royals propose a Crossroads stadium that would demolish several blocks Celisa Calacal

Several Crossroads business owners want the team to build its stadium instead in the East Village, a downtown area of mostly parking lots about half a mile away. The East Village was among the team's original options, and likely wouldn’t require the demolition of any businesses

Business owners plan on sending a message through their votes. They're calling on Jackson County residents to reject the April 2 ballot measure, which would extend the county's current 3/8th-cent sales tax that supports the Royals and the Chiefs stadiums.

 The old Kansas City Star printing press building, which has been unoccupied for several years, would be demolished to make way for a new Royals stadium.
Savannah Hawley-Bates
/
KCUR 89.3
The old Kansas City Star printing press building, which has been unoccupied for several years, would be demolished to make way for a new Royals stadium.

Matt Adkins owns The Pairing, a wine bar and boutique grocery off 16th and Oak Streets, which would be demolished under the current proposal.

“We're all kind of dumbfounded right now, still, that they did choose this location,” Adkins said. "There's literally something five blocks away (in the East Village) where they're saying, ‘Please come over here instead.’”

If the stadium ends up in the Crossroads, Adkins says it will “turn us into another Power and Light district.”

While he was initially a fan of a downtown stadium proposal, and calls himself a “former” fan of the Royals, Adkins says the decision to build in the historic arts district is “an insult.”

Dean Yuba owns Pokesan, which would be demolished if the Royals build their stadium in the Crossroads.  He supports the location choice — as long as the team reimburses and helps support the businesses the stadium would displace.
Savannah Hawley-Bates
/
KCUR 89.3
Dean Yuba owns Pokesan, which would be demolished if the Royals build their stadium in the Crossroads. He supports the location choice — as long as the team reimburses and helps support the businesses the stadium would displace.

The Royals owners say the Crossroads location makes sense because of its proximity to existing entertainment districts, including Power and Light and the South Loop Link project. It also would not require the construction of new parking or major transportation improvements.

At Tuesday's press conference, where the team announced its proposed site, the Royals said they would negotiate with 20 property owners for the Crossroads location.

If owners refuse to sell, the team could use eminent domain to condemn properties.

Another restaurant slated to be razed is Pokesan, a poke bowl shop on Grand. Owner Dean Yuba thinks the stadium is good for the neighborhood — as long as the Royals take care of the business owners they’d displace.

“I think if they do it the right way, it could be good for everybody,” Yuba said. “Even if they wanted to tear this block down, rebuild it, and then offer us a spot here, that would be great too.”

Madison Stitch, a bespoke leather and clothing store on 16th Street, would neighbor a hotel and corporate office in the Royals’ proposed district. Owner John Pryor supported a downtown stadium but has been against a Crossroads stadium location since the team began seriously considering it.

“There's a lot of anxiety right now,” Pryor said. “There needs to be a very robust discussion that happens between Crossroads community members and the small businesses with the Royals about how we're going to preserve the character of the community if they're going to come in here seeking public money to build their project.”

Signs like this one taped to the door of Chartreuse Saloon are scattered around businesses in the Crossroads. Many business owners don't want the Royals stadium in the arts district and would face demolition if it's constructed.
Savannah Hawley-Bates
/
KCUR 89.3
Signs like this one taped to the door of Chartreuse Saloon are scattered around businesses in the Crossroads. Many business owners don't want the Royals stadium in the arts district and would face demolition if it's constructed.

Pryor wants the Royals to prove their commitment to the Crossroads by contributing to the neighborhood’s proposed Community Improvement District and supporting the businesses that would need to be moved or demolished.

He also wants a community benefits agreement — a legal agreement between the neighborhood association and the developers — to preserve the businesses and character of the Crossroads. Labor rights groups like Stand Up KC have been pushing the Royals for months to negotiate a deal that would include affordable housing, livable wages and union jobs.

But Pryor is unsure if any of that will happen. He said the neighborhood feels powerless against the “billionaire proposals” and will be forced to change from the arts district into the ballpark district.

“We are going to lose something vital that has made Kansas City a big league town, which is the uniqueness in character,” he said.

 John Pryor owns his building at 16th Street and Locust Street. Under the Royals' proposal, the business would border a hotel and corporate office. Pryor expects to be inundated with offers to sell his property but says his passion is worth too much.
Savannah Hawley-Bates
/
KCUR 89.3
John Pryor owns his building at 16th Street and Locust Street. Under the Royals' proposal, the business would border a hotel and corporate office. Pryor expects to be inundated with offers to sell his property but says his passion is worth too much.

Jill Cockson owns Chartreuse Saloon, a bar and billiards hall on Oak Street that would be demolished to become the Royals’ residential and entertainment venue.

She said the team has lost her trust — even if they find a way to keep her business going.

The James Beard Award-nominated bartender thinks taxpayer money could be better used for other city services. Cockson said local businesses like hers are organizing to push back against the stadium plan entirely.

“The Royals are the second-worst team in the league right now,” Cockson said. “We're going to ask taxpayers for a billion dollars for a team that can't attract viewership because they're terrible. How about spend that money on better players? Have a better product.”

Copyright 2024 KCUR 89.3. To see more, visit KCUR 89.3.

Savannah Hawley-Bates