American Royal secures land for development in western KCK; project moves forward

An architect’s drawing of the new American Royal complex near 118th and State Avenue in Kansas City, Kansas. (Drawing from American Royal)

The American Royal announced today that it has secured the land for its new campus in western Wyandotte County.

“The announcement that the American Royal made today was absolutely critical to allowing us to move forward,” said Jackie McClaskey, president of new campus development for the American Royal.

Just last night the American Royal went before the City Planning Commission and received approval of the preliminary development plan, she said.

About five American Royal items were on the agenda, including the preliminary development plan, special use permit, and other components of the project. The project moves on to the Unified Government Commission on Jan. 9 for final approval. The City Planning Commission agenda included a change of zone petition for a general business district for the American Royal Hotel, a proposed 353,637-square-foot hotel, according to planning documents.

Plans are to break ground for the new American Royal complex in late spring or early summer of 2020, she added. The core complex should be completed by winter of 2021, according to a news release. The new complex will be near 118th and State Avenue. Kansas Speedway is to the south, and the site is close to the Legends and Village West area.

Currently the American Royal is planning a minimum $220 million development that may increase to $250 million, depending on decisions made on the arena, climate control, barns and exposition halls, McClaskey said.

The new American Royal complex is in an area from 116th to 118th and State Avenue. (Photo from American Royal)

Last year the American Royal, a not-for-profit organization, announced it would be seeking additional donations to build the new complex.

“What happened today is our trigger to engage in full fundraising,” McClaskey said. “We have 25 to 30 percent of our private fund raising committed. We will be working in the early months of 2020 to complete the rest of the fundraising. We felt we needed to own the land and tell people what we are going to build before moving forward with the fundraising effort.”

A STAR (sales tax revenue) bond issue was approved for the American Royal project by the Unified Government about one year ago.

McClaskey said the American Royal has 115 acres under access. That includes 47 acres that it owns, and 68 acres that it has on a 99-year lease, she said.

The American Royal holds livestock shows, rodeos, horse shows and an annual barbecue in the Kansas City area. It began in 1899 and has been located in the bottoms area of Kansas City, Missouri, near the former stockyards. It announced it would move to western Wyandotte County in October 2016.

The site plan for the new American Royal complex showed space for arenas, barn and exposition areas, exhibition space and warmup arena, large arena, education and exhibit areas, a hotel and storage areas. (Drawing from American Royal)

The new complex will have more space than the facility in the bottoms area. More than 1 million square feet of space will allow the American Royal to expand its programming to year-round, according to a news release today. A barn and exposition area, three performance arenas, a warmup arena, a large educational area and more than 50,000 square feet of exhibit space are part of the plans for over 800,000 square feet of indoor space, along with outdoor areas, according to the release.

In the news release, the American Royal described its vision as “the Epicenter of Agriculture,” and stated it hopes to become a national destination for the agriculture and food industry.

The Patterson Family Foundation was instrumental in securing land for the development.

“My late father, Neal Patterson, believed in the value the American Royal holds for the future of agriculture,” said Lindsey Patterson Smith, member of the American Royal Board of Directors and director of the Patterson Family Foundation, in the news release. “While we wish he were here to see this progress, my family and I are proud to be involved in this important initiative and are excited to see what the future holds. This is about more than just building a state-of-the-art complex; it is about creating a place where relevant conversations and events around food, fiber and fuel happen. The American Royal will be a hub that brings people of all ages and backgrounds together to celebrate and advance the industry that impacts all of us every day.”

“Support for the American Royal is strong and growing,” said Glen Alan Phillips, president and CEO of the American Royal, in the news release. “We have contestants coming to Kansas City from over 38 states and 14 countries to compete in our various events. Our livestock and equine shows were up in entries and maxed out the current facilities. Our Pro Rodeo sold out, including 200 standing-room-only tickets, and the American Royal World Series of Barbecue continues to be the world’s largest barbecue competition. We’re excited about this continued growth and the opportunities the new complex will provide to fill these needs in the future.”

Randy Bredar, executive vice president of J.E. Dunn Construction said in the news release, “Like the American Royal, J.E. Dunn Construction has roots that run deep in Kansas City and across the region. We are honored to be working alongside the leadership of the American Royal and Gould Evans on a project of this magnitude and importance. Together, we are ready to design and construct the nation’s Epicenter of Agriculture, right here in our home of Kansas City.”

“This is one of those design opportunities that, at its core, combines a rich history with a dynamic vision and the challenge to create the experiences that celebrate both,” said Tony Rohr, national managing principal at Gould Evans, in the news release. “We are proud to be a part of the team to bring the American Royal vision to life.”

The site for the new American Royal complex is near the Kansas Speedway, the Legends and Village West area of Kansas City, Kansas. (Photo from American Royal)