High Road Strategy Center Releases Covering the Bases: Community Benefits for Public Subsidies in Kansas City

In February 2024, High Road Strategy Center released Covering the Bases: Community Benefits for Public Subsidies in Kansas City that utilizes the successful Community Benefits Agreement workers at The Milwaukee Area Service and Hospitality Workers Organization (MASH) secured with the Milwaukee Bucks as evidence for the importance of a strong agreement between workers and the Kansas City Royals.

“Milwaukee’s Deer District shows that unions have the power to transform the quality of service work,” said report author Laura Dresser. “But this happens when a strong Community Benefits Agreement requires labor peace and makes unionization possible. Without this sort of accountability to the community and working people, public investment in sports teams pays off only for the owners.”  

A few key findings:

  • In 2022, the Kansas City Royals announced plans for a new $2 billion stadium and entertainment district. National evidence shows that sports stadiums don’t boost local economies. 
  • The best way to achieve true community benefits from public dollars for private interest is through a strong, transparent, and enforceable Community Benefits Agreement between the local community and private developers.
  • The CBA between the Milwaukee Bucks and the Alliance for Good Jobs (now Milwaukee Area Service and Hospitality Workers Organization) provides a model, with labor rights and fair wages for service workers. Their union gives Milwaukee service workers a voice on the job and increasing influence on public decision-making about service work.
  • Strong Community Benefits Agreements should be transparent and enforceable. Milwaukee‘s robust CBA includes an explicit and fair process to unionize, wage floors reflective of the local cost of living, and a first source hiring hall with structures set up to hire at least 50 percent of employees from specified zip codes hit by unemployment and underemployment.
  • Achieving this in Kansas City with the Royals requires working people to be at the table to negotiate a strong agreement that protects workers’ rights and well-being.

Read the full report here.



Based at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, High Road Strategy Center is a national think-and-do tank that promotes “high road” solutions to social problems. These treat shared growth and opportunity, environmental sustainability, and resilient democratic institutions as necessary and achievable complements in human development. High Road Strategy Center is nonpartisan but values-based. We seek a world of equal opportunity and security for all.