Missouri Legislators Need to Hear Chiefs Message

In the movie ‘Days of Thunder' the character played by Robert Duvall, tells his young driving protégé Tom Cruise shortly after his race care was nudged near the side wall that ‘Rubbing is Racing,' In the high stakes game of Stadium improvements, Kansas City's Head Chief, Carl Peterson drew a line in the sand after he rubs some feathers about the failures of the Missouri State Legislature to solve the issue of stadium improvements for Arrowhead.

On a day when the topic of the Chiefs should have centered around the signing of two more draft picks (Craphonso Thorpe and Khari Long) or the continued holdout of linebacker Derrick Johnson; instead Chiefs CEO/President Carl Peterson put Missouri Legislators in Jefferson City on notice that they better wake up or the Chiefs could bolt to the Kansas side.

Peterson is perplexed that the tiny town of River Fall, Wisconsin can raise $2.4 million dollars to construct a new training facility for the Chiefs that include new lockers, weight rooms and a host of amenities that are some of the finest in all of college sports.

"They came down to Kansas City and looked at the pro style lockers and came back up here. They were able to acquire a $1.8 million appropriation from the State of Wisconsin and another $600,000 from the student body from their fees to come up with a total $2.4 million figure for the improvement of the facilities," Peterson told reporters on Friday.

In this high stakes game of poker the folks in Jefferson City are playing Russian roulette with a team that is playing in an inadequate stadium. Even further they are messing with one of the most stable and financially sound franchises not only in the NFL but in any sport. Those with the power to pass legislation for the Chiefs and the Kansas City Royals for that matter; seem more concerned with breaking promises and feeding the coffers of their contributors in the eastern most city of the state in St. Louis. Now I'm not knocking the people who live in St. Louis but why are Jackson County taxpayers forced to give their hard earn tax dollars to help St. Louis construct an arena and indoor football stadium. How fair is that?

In these parts we talk about the border war between the Kansas Jayhawks and the Missouri Tigers but this is nothing compared to what the Kansas Legislators and officials in Wyandotte County might be prepared to do to lure the Chiefs to the Kansas side of the fence.

It's clear that Peterson is not happy and he expressed those thoughts to reporters today.

"I'll be candid that it's a little bit disappointing. (What) we went through this past spring in Jefferson City (Missouri) that representatives there and even representatives of constituents in Jackson County could not agree on a tax that would tax no one in the state of Missouri, but only professional athletes and entertainers outside of the State of Missouri. We thought it was a very simple solution to solving a very major problem, which is becoming a large one for us at the Truman Sports Complex, specific to Arrowhead Stadium and Kauffman Stadium are going to be 33 years old this year. But our legislature in Missouri made that decision. I wouldn't say all of them because it did pass the Senate, but it didn't happen in the House. Yet, we come up here for 23 days and they've got $2.4 million of new facilities for us. I think there's a message there. I hope the people in Missouri are listening, specifically the representatives," Peterson said.

Now I'm not naive to think that Jefferson City could not raise the same amount of money to upgrade some of the facilities at One Arrowhead Drive. But can they generate the $10's of millions of dollars that it will require just to get the stadium back on a level playing field with other teams in the NFL?

We're not talking about shining it, buffing it or making it a true state of the art facility but one that has wider concourses, larger bathrooms, more amenities for the fans and better food. Okay the last one was my idea. But the locker rooms need to be upgraded and when other cities find ways to pay for aging stadium improvements; why can't Missouri?

Mainly because they don't want to do it.

Well they better act fast because Kansas will do it if given the chance. A couple of weeks ago rumors circulated that Carl Peterson and Clark Hunt met with Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius earlier this month. I doubt those talks were to get Missouri to step up to the plate.

Now Peterson would not comment about the meeting or even if it took place but quite frankly; he doesn't have to at this point because it's no secret that the Governor and the state legislation would love to house the Chiefs next to the NASCAR track in Wyandotte County.

For Peterson, he has not appreciated the way the state legislation in Missouri has broken their promises and given the Chiefs and Royals false hopes that after Bi-State II failed that they would indeed step up to the plate to bringing the aging facilities up to par.

"They told myself and Clark Hunt in January and in March that they would support it and in May they did not. I don't like people who say one thing and then change their mind. I'd rather be told directly. But they have to live with what they did and hopefully their constituents will know that the next time they come around to vote. We have a problem and we know that in Jackson County. Arrowhead Stadium and Kauffman Stadium, their magnificent facilities, but they're 33 years old. We live there. We're there in the inner confines of the stadium and we see the electrical, the plumbing, the concrete – it's all 33 years old. You can't wait until it crumbles to say ‘now we have a problem.' There's a short timetable to get this fixed and hopefully we will. Perhaps something like the University of Wisconsin – River Falls and the State of Wisconsin has done for us will send a message to those people in Jefferson City. "

He makes a solid point. But fans who fear this franchise might move to the West Coast; can rest easy; the Land of 'Oz' will bail the fans out and build the Chiefs a stadium worthy of housing one of the greatest sports franchises in the NFL and rewarding the Hunt family for their loyalty to the entire metropolitan area.

Wyandotte county has the land, infra-structure and the resources to give the Chiefs everything they want; including a state of the art stadium, hall of fame, corporate offices, training facilities, practice facilities and probably dorms so the team can move their summer home from Wisconsin back to Kansas. But at this point the Chiefs have a pretty sweet deal in River Falls.

Consider the fact the folks in River Falls took the initiative to make the improvements despite zero guarantees from the Chiefs they return in 2006. Some would say that's foolish. I say it's brilliant. Right now the State of Wisconsin is showing the Chiefs more love than the state of Missouri in regards to their respective state legislators.

The bottom line is that Peterson has made it clear that if Missouri does not get up off their tails and figure out a way to pass a bill that would give both stadiums the funding they need to be more competitive in their respective sports; than at least one of them; the Kansas City Chiefs could leave the state altogether. He also stressed that the Hunts would prefer to stay in Missouri and just want improvements made to Arrowhead. Now politically he's correct but he's also a realist and he's in the business where money matters just as much as building championship football teams. To a large degree his hands are tied but sooner or later he'll have to play the Kansas card for real.

"It's out of our hands. We worked hard to support a bill that we thought would facilitate to a degree at least a minimal degree of the maintenance to the stadiums, but we couldn't get it done. We spent two years in an effort to do that. Now unfortunately, it all falls on Jackson County, the City of Kansas City and still the State of Missouri. We'll see what happens," Peterson said.

It will be interesting to see if the Misouri State Legislators rub back or simply lays down and does nothing to prevent the team from moving 25 miles to the west. One thing is certain the folks in Jefferson City have been warned as the race for the Chiefs has officially begun.

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