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Voters about to decide future of pro sports in Kansas City

March 26, 2006

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— Is Kansas City in danger of losing the Chiefs and Royals?

That seems to be the subtle but clear threat the two teams are giving the region.

As voters in Jackson County, Mo., consider a proposal on sales and business taxes that would raise about half a billion dollars for extensive renovations to Kauffman and Arrowhead stadiums, radio and TV ads are saying, "Keep the teams ..."

Opponents of the measures - and they are many - accuse Chiefs founder Lamar Hunt and Royals owner David Glass of "playing the fear card." They insist there is nowhere for owners to take the teams if the measure is defeated on April 4.

When pressed, the owners back away somewhat from saying they might move the teams if the vote does not go their way. But neither do they promise to stay.

"If for some reason this wouldn't pass, we would have to examine our options," Glass said. "To be real honest, we haven't looked at our options. And there's no point in thinking about anything right now other than getting it passed."

Hunt, who moved the Chiefs from Dallas in 1963 and is one of the most honored owners in all of professional sports, says the same.

"I have consistently said I am not going to answer questions about failure. I'm an optimist at heart and I believe the referendum, both of them, will pass," he said. "If it does not pass, we'll address it at that time."

Without immediate repairs to the stadiums, which opened in 1972 and 1973, the Jackson County Sports Authority will violate a lease agreement mandating that the stadiums be maintained in "state of the art" condition - meaning the teams would no longer be bound to the lease.

With the renovations, the teams have already signed new leases keeping them in Kansas City through 2031.

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