Kansas City Chiefs and Royals say stadium deals will help the community. Economists disagree

March 25, 2024

KCUR: Kansas City Chiefs and Royals say stadium deals will help the community. Economists disagree

A baseball base on top of brown dirt.
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The Kansas City Royals and Chiefs claimed they had created a “historic” community benefits agreement. The agreement was critiqued by several economists and other leaders, including Good Jobs First’s Executive Director Greg LeRoy. From the article:

LeRoy says the Chiefs’ and Royals’ deal is “laundry-listed with philanthropy,” which makes it look like a PR move instead of a positive return to the community.

LeRoy says the agreement doesn’t do much for the community and is an example of “what a fake CBA looks like.” But it does make the Royals more valuable.

“These long-term small payments, broadly defined, could be structured as charity,” LeRoy says. “The team is getting those massive tax breaks … which far, far exceed the cost of these donations. Will you get a winning team? Will you get a better neighborhood? Will you get a safer community? Those are all debatable, but it’s virtually a sure lock that you’re going to get a more valuable franchise.”

He says a key issue with the agreement is that it’s primarily between the county and the teams. A community benefits agreement, according to a manual Good Jobs First published two decades ago, is between a developer and private community groups, not primarily negotiated by a governmental entity…

Victor Matheson, a sports economist and professor at the College of the Holy Cross, says the biggest issue with the agreement is its “vague goals” for funding with the annual $3.5 million. Like LeRoy, Matheson’s biggest takeaway is that “this community benefits agreement is entirely PR.”

“They come off saying, ‘Hey, we’re a really good corporate citizen because we are going to give $3.5 million a year — that we are going to have a great deal of input about how that money gets spent.’ And in exchange for that, all we want you to do is give us $27 million a year.”

Read the full story at KCUR.