By now, most people are aware the Kansas City Royals new stadium search is centered on the East Village in the Downtown Loop and a site in North Kansas City.
The NKC location involves half a dozen blocks bounded by Armour Road on the north, 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.
The East Village is in the northeast quadrant of the Downtown Loop. It’s an eight-block redevelopment area northeast of City Hall that for decades has been hoping to attract development.
Earlier this year, we expressed a positive reaction that the Clay County site was in the running. Too often, Clay County and the Northland are referred to as if they were farmland near the Iowa border. While not as populated or developed as Jackson County, the area IS a vibrant and growing part of Greater Kansas City. K.C. even chose to build its airport in the Northland and just completed a $1.6 billion terminal upgrade. Clay County contains many of the region’s fastest growing cities. It is already home to over a quarter of a million residents and some of the largest employers in the entire region.
It was a surprise and disappointment, then, to see a negative editorial in a metro area newspaper trying to build a case against the Clay County location. What was especially notable were the many outdated and simplistic arguments. Among the old myths was that somehow Clay County and the Northland are in Iowa and that the North Kansas City site possesses far more obstacles and issues than the East Village location.
Objectively, neither site is perfect. But the worst attribute of either location may be the Downtown Freeway Loop, which includes a dangerous and difficult freeway design that predates interstate standards. This congested area contains 23 exits, most with very short ramps that make merging traffic a nightmare. Prior to the Royals stadium discussion and the added traffic that would bring, there have even been suggestions to close the North Loop, with poor traffic patterns used as a key reason.
The stadium is an important discussion, and every issue should be on the table. However, those issues should be discussed objectively and without parochial mudslinging. This issue is too important.