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  • Writer's pictureTim Carpenter, Kansas Reflector

Kansas legislative leaders draw up play to lure Kansas City Chiefs away from Missouri

Gov. Laura Kelly, who signed a bill legalizing sports betting in Kansas, placed the state’s first legal sports bet in 2022 on the Kansas City Chiefs. Leaders of the Kansas Legislature are offering the Kansas City Chiefs the opportunity to discuss state economic incentives to move the NFL champion team to a new stadium on the Kansas side of the state line. (Submitted)


By Tim Carpenter, Kansas Reflector


TOPEKA — The Kansas Senate president and Kansas House speaker said Tuesday they were intrigued by the potential of putting together an incentive package capable of attracting the Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs to a new stadium complex in Kansas.


The Kansas Legislature will be in Topeka starting June 18 to consider a tax relief bill after called into special session by Gov. Laura Kelly. There is no limit on topics lawmakers might consider, which opens the door consideration of a deal for the NFL franchise.


Senate President Ty Masterson, R-Andover, and House Speaker Dan Hawkins, R-Wichita, said in a statement establishing a home for the Chiefs on the Kansas side of  the state line was an opportunity that deserved “thorough conversation.”


“We have reached out to the Chiefs organization and asked them to weigh in on the possibility of using Kansas’ unique STAR bond funding tool and explore what that collaboration could hold,” the statement said.


The two GOP legislative leaders have discouraged lawmakers from wading into issues during the special session other than tax reform and an economic development package tied to a second professional sports franchise. Sporting Kansas City, an MLS team, is based in Kansas City, Kansas.


During final days of the 2024 regular legislative session, House and Senate members discussed the possibility of the state issuing hundreds of millions of dollars in STAR bonds to finance construction of a stadium in the Kansas City area. The bonds would be repaid through tax collections within the business district bracketing the replacement for Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri.


The rush to land the Chiefs has been supported by formation of a lobbying organization, Scoop and Score, affiliated with former Kansas House Speaker Ron Ryckman of Johnson County and nearly two-dozen registered Kansas lobbyists.


Initially, the idea was to draw the Kansas City Royals to the Kansas side of the state line with Missouri. That idea surfaced after Jackson County, Missouri, voters rejected a sales tax proposal for construction of a downtown stadium for the MLB team.


However, proposed legislation floated at the Capitol did leave open the possibility of either the Chiefs or Royals relocating to Kansas.


“The rich tradition and history of the Chiefs are beloved across the entire Kansas City region and throughout Kansas,” Hawkins and Masterson said. “We’re excited that the Chiefs are open to this  conversation and look forward to seeing what mutually beneficial opportunities might lie ahead for both the people of Kansas and the Chiefs franchise.”


The legislative leaders have communicated with Chiefs chairman Clark Hunt to tout potential of the state’s business incentives and strategic locations in Wyandotte County. In that letter to Hunt, the two state legislators said the offer would be the “best economic development partnership the franchise will find in America.”


The key element of any deal would be STAR bonds, which could be used to finance construction of a stadium and related infrastructure to operate the facility. STAR bonds have been used for all sorts of Kansas economic development projects with debt repaid by collecting sales tax revenue within the bonding business district.


Masterson and Hawkins said in the Hunt letter a deal attracting the Chiefs to Kansas would deliver return on investment that would “be a victory for the Kansas taxpayers and a game-changer for our state’s economy.”


This article was reprinted with permission from the Kansas Reflector. The Kansas Reflector is a non-profit online news organization serving Kansas. For more information on the organization, go to its website at www.kansasreflector.com.

 

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