KANSAS CITY — Jackson County voters split Tuesday on a pair of tax measures to fund upgrades to Kansas City’s sports stadiums, approving a sales tax for renovations and refurbishments but rejecting a separate business tax for a rolling roof at the Truman Sports Complex.
With 100 percent of precincts reporting, the three-eighth-cent sales tax passed 49,362 votes to 44,300. A $200 million plan to install a rolling roof at the complex failed by a narrower margin, 48,673 votes to 44,778.
The sales tax is expected to raise $425 million over 25 years to renovate Arrowhead Stadium, home of the NFL’s Kansas City Chiefs, and Kauffman Stadium, where baseball’s Kansas City Royals play. That money also would fund such new amenities as a pavilion behind Kauffman Stadium, similar to the one behind Arrowhead.
The rolling roof would have moved between the two stadiums, providing climate control.
The NFL had said Kansas City would get the Super Bowl in 2015 if voters approved the rolling roof, and baseball had also promised the city an All-Star Game sometime after 2010 if both measures are approved.
Supporters argued that passing both questions was the only way to guarantee Kansas City’s sports future, while opponents said the teams’ owners should not be asking for so much public money.
“I think athletics makes higher profits than almost any other industry,” said Joyce Merrill, of Kansas City, who voted against both measures. “We don’t subsidize anybody else to help them build facilities to help them make more money.”
Had the sales tax measure failed, Jackson County would have gone into default on its lease with the teams on Jan. 1, 2007, and the Royals and Chiefs would be free to seek new homes elsewhere. Neither team has said it would move if the measures failed, but neither has promised to stay.
Supporters fear the teams might leave town, pointing to other cities that have lost franchises that were equally beloved by their communities — Cleveland’s Browns and Baltimore’s Colts, for example — and over basically the same issue, the lack of adequate stadiums.
Opponents insisted the teams would not go anywhere.
The Royals and Chiefs have signed leases to keep them in Kansas City through 2031 — if both measures pass.