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Funkhouser Wants To End City Funding For Chiefs, Royals Stadiums

Kansas City mayor Mark Funkhouser, once the subject of an interview in this space, has said he wants to halt city funding for the Truman Sports Complex  -- better known as the home for the Kansas City Chiefs and Kansas City Royals.

In the past, the city has provided up to $2 million for the stadiums.

"We have no choice but to now eliminate what is a non-contractual agreement to directly fund the Truman Sports Complex stadiums," Funkhouser said.

Michael Mahoney of KMBC 9 reports, "Funkhouser said the county needs to figure out a long-term solution because 'Kansas City's general fund is not the place to find that money in these tough economic times.'"

Funkhouser cited the more than 200 folks that have been laid off around the city as evidence of the economic times hitting Kansas City.

A few notes on this and why this is not a good idea from the Funkhouser camp:

First, not paying that money could result in essentially breaking the lease with the Chiefs, according to a March statement from County Executive Mike Sanders.

"The teams would then be, to use the sports phrase, free agents to do whatever they wanted to do. Re-negotiate the deal or to not honor any of the provisions of the lease they did not want to honor," Sanders said at the time.

Second, this could essentially let Johnson County off the hook for paying anything at the stadium.

Third, he doesn't appear to have much support on this. Mike Smith of the Jackson County Sports Authority also commented back in March on how Funkhouser's plan to eliminate the money would, in the long run, cost the city money.

"These stadiums are an economic engine not only for Jackson County, but for Kansas City as well, creating thousands of jobs and generating millions in direct and in-direct state and local taxes," Smith said in a news release. "To curtail the funding by the city, which is used to pay the bonds approved by the voters in 2006, would be to ignore the commitment made by the mayor and council at the time. The county pays the lion's share of the bonds. The city pays a very small part and receives the lion's share of the benefit by having its name on the teams. Note that the teams are not called the Jackson County Royals or the Jackson County Chiefs."    

Bottomline? Ending the city funding could result in a violation of the lease with the Chiefs and Royals -- and this is according to many accounts, including that of County Executive Mike Sanders -- which would leave open the possibility of either team freely ending their agreement with the city.

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