Although Downtown Kansas City may lead, Clay County’s competitiveness for a “downtown” Royals stadium boosts the Northland brand as much as a future KC baseball location.
Downtown’s East Village is the likely leader in the race. However, a North Kansas City spot has made the short list of potential replacements for Royal’s Stadium at Truman Sports Complex. The announcement is more evidence that much of Clay County is closer to downtown than many south of the river locations.
EDC Executive Director David Slater is among those recognizing the value of Clay County’s prime location, which features plentiful parking and easy access in the shadow of the Kansas City skyline. “Absolutely,” Slater said in a recent interview. “It’s one of their final site selections.”
In the same article, Brooks Sherman, Royals COO and president of business operations, agreed. He noted that from an original, 14 sites being considered, there are now five, including one in North Kansas City.
The location involves half a dozen blocks in North Kansas City bounded by Armour Road on the north and 15th Avenue on the south, and between Howell and Swift streets on the east and west. The area contains the former AMF bowling alley and the Gold Buffet, as well as several parking lots.
Slater recently acknowledged that the EDC has been working behind the scenes on this issue for months. “We’ve been taking direction from North Kansas City Mayor Bryant DeLong, running some numbers and notifying MoDOT of the potential need to change the 16th Avenue half-diamond off I-35 into a full diamond,” Slater said. “While everything is still very preliminary, including the financing, we are allowed to dream.”
He also shared the proximity of additional Clay County attractions like Worlds of Fun, Jesse James Farm and Smithville Lake as being additional benefits for the many Royals fans from out of town. “We’ll be OK if the Royals pick another location, but imagine the tourism boost we would get,” he said. “We may not win, but we will give this chance of a lifetime our best efforts.”