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Missouri Governor expects the state to put forward a plan to keep the Kansas City Chiefs by the end of the year

Fireworks go off before a game at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri last September. Kansas lawmakers passed legislation that would offer incentives if the Kansas City Chiefs relocate from Arrowhead to Kansas and build a new stadium (David Eulitt/Getty Images).

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson said Monday he doesn’t think the Kansas City Chiefs want to leave Arrowhead Stadium for Kansas, though he acknowledged he hasn’t actually talked to the team’s owners.

Speaking to reporters after a bill signing in Kansas City, Parson said he thought the reigning Super Bowl champion wasn’t that interested in building a new domed football stadium.

“I think they really want Arrowhead to stay,” Parson said. “I think it’s a unique arena.”

Parson’s remarks came after he spent the afternoon meeting with Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas and other area officials to discuss how to keep the Chiefs and Kansas City Royals in Missouri.

Both teams have publicly considered the possibility of leaving for Kansas after Jackson County voters rejected a proposal to extend a 3/8-cent sales tax to help finance a downtown Kansas City baseball stadium for the Royals and upgrades to Arrowhead.

Last month, Kansas lawmakers expanded a state tax incentive program in the hopes of convincing one or both teams to relocate.

“I’m not too worried about Kansas at this point,” Parson said.

Parson, who leaves office in January, said he expected to see Missouri put forward a plan to keep the teams by the end of the year. Missouri’s plan, he said, could be just as good for the teams — if not better.

First, he said, information on the teams’ plans — including location of stadiums, costs of the project and details of any entertainment district or other development planned around it — needs to be made public.

With Parson’s impending departure from office, Missouri’s next governor could be left to finalize any plan to keep the teams. Two of the three top candidates for the GOP gubernatorial nomination say they would oppose any incentive package for the Chiefs and Royals.

Asked if that affects negotiations, Parson said the state has tools at its disposal even now while the Missouri General Assembly is not in session “if we knew what the plan was.”

“The conversation needs to be had with the Royals — where are you going to put a stadium?” Parson said. “How much money do you need? What’s it going to cost for this? How are we going to pay for this? What incentives does the city have?”

Missouri House Majority Leader Jonathan Patterson — who will likely become the next speaker of the House — told the Kansas City Star Monday that he expects Jackson County residents will wind up voting again over the stadium sales tax. He also told The Star, following conversations with both the Chiefs and Royals, that it was clear both teams wanted to stay in Missouri.

After Kansas lawmakers passed legislation designed to relocate the teams, Patterson told The Star he thought a second Jackson County vote would be successful.

“I think now with the Kansas option staring us, staring us right in the face, I think that changed the dynamic, and it would be a different vote next time around,” he said.

Jackson County Executive Frank White Jr. said in a statement after meetings with Parson that the two had a “productive conversation centered on the pride these teams bring to our community and the importance of developing a fair and sustainable plan for the future.” Before White can support a new stadium proposal, he said, “it must offer clear and significant benefits to the taxpayers of Jackson County,” something he argues the sales tax does not.

White said he’s hopeful that the state will continue to support the effort to keep the teams in Missouri even after Parson leaves office.

“Together, we can find a solution that ensures the Chiefs and Royals remain a proud part of Jackson County without compromising the financial well-being of our community,” White said.

The Royals’ Kauffman Stadium and Arrowhead sit next to each other and share the parking lot of the Truman Sports Complex in east Kansas City.

The teams’ plans for the Jackson County sales tax were criticized by some, including White, as vague and incomplete.

But Kansas lawmakers saw in the failed Jackson County vote a chance to lure the teams across the state line. They claimed Missouri had “dropped the ball” and it was up to Kansas to keep the teams in the Kansas City metropolitan area.

Last month, Kansas lawmakers expanded the state’s Sales Tax and Revenue (STAR) Bond to help finance up to 70% of the cost for one or both teams to move to Kansas. The expanded program could yield hundreds of millions of dollars for the stadiums.

STAR Bonds are issued to help pay the construction costs and then repaid by the sales tax collected at the project site. Normally, STAR Bonds, which are meant to help build tourist and entertainment venues, are limited to 50% of the project costs.

The legislation, signed by Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly last month, was criticized by Missouri officials who considered it a violation of an agreement Kelly and Parson reached in 2019 to stop using economic incentives to move companies and jobs back and forth across the state line.

Neither the Chiefs nor the Royals were available to comment.

This story was updated at 8:48 a.m. with comments from Missouri House Majority Leader Jonathan Patterson and Jackson County Executive Frank White Jr.