Depending on who you ask, it was either the best kept secret or the worst. Either way, the news is now official: the American Royal has announced plans to build a $160 million complex north of Kansas Speedway!
First, let me thank the American Royal for choosing KCK as its new home. We have every reason to believe that the Royal will join the growing list of high-profile attractions that have made the development surrounding the Speedway the state’s top tourist attraction.
And that’s what excites me about bringing the Royal to KCK: It builds on the UG’s entrepreneurial vision of adding to an already booming tourist destination. Just as important, it stands to create a year-round attraction that would drive additional traffic. As great as it is to have the T-Bones, Sporting KC, and the Speedway, none of those venues generates tourism during winter months. The American Royal’s proposal for an arena, exhibit space, a museum and an agricultural education center would bring tourists to the area at a time when traffic typically lags.
Last night, the UG’s Board of Commissioners took the first step toward making this vision a reality when it set a Dec. 15 public hearing to consider the creation of a STAR bond district to support the American Royal development. As you probably know, STAR bonds have been used to boost development near the Speedway. Sales tax revenue collected within a STAR bond district is used to pay off bonds that finance some of the construction expenses related to the development.
It’s important to know that the American Royal project will not have any impact on the $12 million in sales tax revenue we are now collecting since the retirement of STAR bonds at Village West. This money will continue to come to the UG’s budget as planned.
That said, the new STAR bond district for the American Royal will require new retail, new restaurants and new hotels to pay off the bonds. The details of that development will be worked out in the coming months and won’t be available for some time after the STAR bond district is created. So stay tuned. I’m just as excited to know those details as you are!
Mayor Mark Holland