Move #4: Jackson County Voters Save the Day

Back in April, the Chiefs were on pins and needles, hoping that Jackson County taxpayers would approve renovations for Arrowhead Stadium. After a lot of hard work, lobbying and praying, the Chiefs and the Royals secured the funding to upgrade their stadiums as the measure passed three hours after the polls closed.

It was a bittersweet night for the Chiefs. The stadium renovation vote passed, but Lamar Hunt's dream of a rolling roof died late on the evening of April 4th, 2006.

After failing to get a bi-state tax approved the last time a stadium initiative went to the voters, the Chiefs entered the evening wondering if the citizens of Jackson County really understood the situation.

For months prior to the vote, rumors suggested that the Chiefs could be lured to Los Angeles. That worried many people. Would Lamar Hunt really move the franchise to the west coast where NFL football falls behind college football, surfing and celebrities?

With Clark Hunt taking more control of the team in recent years, anything was possible. His father has established himself since he moved the team from Dallas in 1961, but Clark doesn't have the same allegiance to Kansas City.

I'm not saying that he would have moved the team, but with some of the political factions falling all over themselves while failing to deliver a yes vote, someone would have come up with a plan ‘B' or ‘C' to save the Chiefs and Royals.

With many detractors (including local radio) trying to convince voters that it would be better to relocate the teams to Kansas or downtown Kansas City, the citizens on the Missouri side stepped up and got it done. Neither team really wanted to move. Even though the Chiefs did talk with officials in Topeka, at the end of the campaigning it was clear the Truman Sports Complex was the place to be.

After it became clear that the renovation vote would pass shortly after the first numbers came in from the precincts, the attention turned to the Rolling Roof.

But that vote was dead from the beginning. Its addition to the ballot was poorly written, and adding it at the last minute made voters feel that just keeping the teams in town through 2029 was enough.

I'm not going to chastise the folks in Jackson County for failing to get the roof passed. It had no chance, and everyone knew it. However, it's still a great idea and hopefully someone will come up with a plan in the next several months to find a way to fund it.

But that's all behind us. Chiefs fans can now sit back and watch the construction begin after the 2006 season ends, hopefully sometime in late January or early February.

No renovation plans have been released, but the Chiefs have been touring some of the existing work in the NFL. With Kansas City's status as the Mecca of Sports Architecture, there is little doubt that Arrowhead is in store for a gorgeous facelift.

I was fortunate to be at the very first game in 1972, and there isn't a bad seat in the house. The bowl is perfect, and the atmosphere is still the best in the league.

If there is a downside to the renovation, the perfect view the media has enjoyed since Arrowhead opened will be reconfigured in favour of luxury suites. For those of us who have been pampered in the press box, the view from the top might not be the best, but at least we'll never have to worry about the Chiefs leaving Kansas City in the next 25 years. I'll give up my seat for that.

In the end, we all owe a big thanks to voters of Jackson County.

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