A top Kansas City Chiefs executive said the team had “a long way to go” before it decided whether to remain at the legendary Arrowhead stadium.
Chiefs President Mark Donovan said the team is open to staying at Arrowhead, building a new stadium near the current one or moving somewhere else altogether.
“All of those are on the table,” he said at Friday’s Downtown Council annual luncheon.
At an NFL owners meeting in Florida earlier this month, Donovan made waves when he revealed the team had considered pitches to build a new stadium in Kansas.
But in a downtown ballroom on Friday, Donovan asked the community for patience as the team explores its future.
“The perspective I want to give everybody is: Take a breath. We’ve got a lot of work to do, ”he said.
Donovan said the NFL franchise is well aware that its decision will affect the club and the community for the next 50 years or more – a point chairman and CEO Clark Hunt recently made to team leaders, he said.
The Chiefs are currently funding a $ 500,000 study on the state of Arrowhead. That study will explore what needs to be done to get the stadium through 2031, when the foreign lease with Jackson County is set to expire.
“Then, once we’ve got that study, what could be added to this building to take it 50 more years?” he said. “And is that even possible? And what’s it cost? And what are the advantages and what are the disadvantages? ”
Donovan characterized a decision as a ways off.
But the team president also said the Chiefs have to “get ready” and explore alternatives in case they determine Arrowhead is unsuitable for the future.
“We do have to look at, does it make sense to build new? But you can not even have that discussion and really get serious about it until you know what you have. And that’s going to take awhile. “
Donovan spoke on a panel that featured executives from the Chiefs, the Royals, Sporting KC and the Kansas City Current. He described Arrowhead as a “bucket list” destination for sports fans across the country and said its iconic status would be a big factor in determining what’s next for the team.
“Arrowhead is special,” he said.
Of course, the discussion on Friday also touched on the future of the Kansas City Royals, who have for months been eyeing a move to a downtown stadium. That’s a move that the Downtown Council, an interest group of local residents and businesses, has been publicly championing.
Even the Chiefs president weighed in on the matter.
Donovan grew up in Pittsburgh, and touted the benefits of the Pittsburgh Pirates’ PNC Park, which opened in downtown in 2001.
“This is not a Chiefs statement, this is a Mark Donovan statement: Baseball downtown is where it belongs, ”Donovan said to applause. “I’m a big supporter of what they’re doing, not just because it frees up more options around Arrowhead.”
The Royals appear to be further along in crafting plans to leave the Truman Sports Complex, although the team has provided few details to the public.
And relocation of the Royals could help the Chiefs with their own decision: Demolishing Kauffman Stadium would give the Chiefs room to build a brand new stadium while playing in Arrowhead during construction. Or, the site could provide the Chiefs with more room for fan parking and ancillary features like bars, restaurants and entertainment venues.
Brooks Sherman, senior vice president and chief operating officer for the Royals, said the team continues to evaluate a potential move to downtown.
“We think baseball belongs downtown,” said Sherman, who is of no relation to majority team owner John Sherman.
Sherman said a downtown stadium could contribute new jobs to the area and help build safe, walkable neighborhoods.
As the team owner has said before, he said a new stadium would benefit underrepresented populations, though he did not elaborate on how.
“We think it just benefits the community,” Sherman said. “And that’s first for us. It has to benefit the entire community. ”
He pointed to other cities like San Diego, Houston and St. Louis that have built stadiums in or around their downtowns.
“When you look at those cities and you see what they’ve done, there’s not a single one of them that regrets putting that stadium downtown,” Sherman said.