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Archive for Wednesday, October 4, 2006

Arrowhead lease switch puts fans on hook

License fee proposed for renovations

October 4, 2006

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— More than five months later, the NFL is rewriting part of the agreement used to pass a sales tax for renovations to the Kansas City Chiefs' Arrowhead Stadium.

County voters in April approved by a 53-47 margin the 3â8-cent tax, expected to raise $425 million over 25 years to extensively refurbish and renovate Arrowhead and nearby Kauffman Stadium, home of the Kansas City Royals.

It also locked the Chiefs and Royals into a 25-year lease that provided that Chiefs fans would pay a $1-per-ticket surcharge to cover ongoing maintenance at the complex from the end of construction through the 2030 season.

But on Monday, county officials said the NFL nixed the surcharge this summer and, instead, they're proposing that season-ticket holders fork over a $131 "season-ticket license fee" over the next three years, or $43.67 per year.

"Unbelievable!" exclaimed Kevin Treffer of Independence, Mo., who has had club-level seats at Arrowhead since 1988. "It shouldn't be on the backs of season-ticket holders."

Chiefs representatives said the NFL determined that the surcharge would have had to be shared with the other teams and players as part of the league's revenue-sharing agreement.

Clark Hunt, the Chiefs' chairman, said the NFL would look more favorably at the license fee because it would be a short-term fee paid by season-ticket holders to keep their seats.

"We are just trying to tailor the solution within NFL policy," Hunt said. "This (surcharge) was driven by the (county) Legislature. It is something they have requested, and we have just tried to be responsive to them and find a solution that both they and the NFL will approve."

County Legislator Fred Arbanas, a Chiefs hall of famer, pushed for the $1 surcharge in January as the lease and tax proposal was being developed. He wanted to make sure the cost of maintenance was spread around and not just the burden of county taxpayers.

The county's lease with the Chiefs required the NFL to sign off on the lease by March 15.

Greg Aiello, an NFL spokesman, said he had no information on the NFL's actions and couldn't comment.

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