August roof vote is sought


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Jan 22, 2006
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Legislator to push plan
August roof vote is sought
Summer ballot seen as last chance on stadium project
The Kansas City Star

Because of a last-minute effort, the plan to build a rolling roof at the Truman Sports Complex might get on the August ballot.

In April, voters defeated a plan that would have put a $200 million movable roof over Arrowhead and Kauffman stadiums. About $170 million of that would have been generated by a new use tax, paid mostly by businesses. The rest would have come from the Chiefs and the sale of naming rights.

County Legislator Dennis Waits said he would bring essentially the same proposal back before the Jackson County Legislature on Monday, days before the deadline for the August ballot. If the county places the measure on the ballot before May 30, the roof will come before voters again this summer.

Waits says he wants to have a debate on the roof idea. If other legislators have changes, he said, he’s open to them.

“I see this as a beginning point, rather than an end,” said Waits, who hadn’t seen the measure’s exact language on Thursday evening.

Others, including County Legislative Chairman Henry Rizzo, were upset that the proposal was being brought up just before the deadline. Legislators haven’t had much time to discuss the idea, Rizzo said, and there won’t be time for public forums.

“I am concerned that there has been no talk of this before it came out,” Rizzo said.

The Chiefs, who support the roof plan, did not ask Waits to reintroduce the proposal, but the club would like to see it go up for vote again, said Jack Steadman, the Chiefs’ vice chairman. “We’re disappointed it didn’t pass in April,” he said.

The National Football League has promised to have the Super Bowl here in 2015 if voters say yes to the roof. The team is also planning a major renovation of the stadium. “If it doesn’t get in in August, it’s too late,” Steadman said. But the public has to have the final say, he said.

While the football team prefers a rolling roof shared with the Royals, Steadman said, it’s possible that Arrowhead Stadium alone would get a roof, a retractable one. Designers are still looking at the options, he said.

The roof failed by only a few thousand votes in April, Waits said. He argued that many voters didn’t understand how the tax would work.

But voters clearly defeated the measure, Rizzo said. He is not against looking at the roof idea again, he said, but it needs to be different from what voters rejected.

The Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce has already taken the same position. Earlier this month the group’s executive committee voted unanimously to oppose putting the roof on the August ballot if it’s the same one from April.

Rizzo said he had already heard Thursday from business leaders who are unhappy about the plan being debated again.

Bob Gough, a roof opponent, said he would fight it again. He was displeased but not surprised that it had been resurrected. “I suppose they’re thinking, ‘Well, we’ll give the suckers another chance, and it might pass,’ ” he said.
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