Jackson County officials and the Kansas City Royals on Wednesday escalated their long-running battle over taxpayer support for Kauffman Stadium and the Truman Sports Complex.
Amid criticism of how the team uses tax dollars, County Executive Mike Sanders and Royals owner David Glass talked stadium spending in a rare phone call between the two.
The private talk yielded no resolution.
At the center of the conflict sits growing dissatisfaction in county government with stadium lease terms agreed to six years ago by the Royals and Chiefs, and the teams’ insistence that the county stick to the deal.
The teams have long insisted their spending for some personnel costs, including taxes, are fully allowed by 25-year leases signed in 2006. Critics, including some in county government, argue such spending is unreasonable.
On Wednesday, Sanders and Glass discussed issuing a joint statement about the spending, but couldn’t reach an agreement by day’s end.
Sanders was unavailable for comment. In a statement issued late Wednesday, the Royals said they had “consistently” followed the terms of their lease. The Chiefs said they will continue to operate in “full compliance and cooperation” with the county, the Royals and the Jackson County Sports Complex Authority.
Tempers had clearly flared, but a Sanders spokesman downplayed the feud.
“We continue to work with the teams to resolve these issues in a way that protects the taxpayers,” said Calvin Williford, Sanders’ chief of staff.
Reports that the Royals and Chiefs spent taxpayer money on personnel costs and other expenses rocketed through the blogoshpere and on local sports talk radio Tuesday and Wednesday.
Some critics were particularly steamed that the teams had used taxpayer money to cover payroll taxes.
Royals & Jackson County Argue Over Stadium Spending