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JEFFERSON CITY — The Kansas City Chiefs found themselves inside the Missouri Supreme Court on Wednesday tackling issues about their stadium — and not the play that occurs in it.

Arrowhead Stadium renovations that cost millions have left the Chiefs facing sales and use taxes that they believed they were exempt from paying.

Under the renovation project agreement, the director of revenue for the Jackson County Sports Complex Authority agreed that certain purchases would be exempt from sales and use tax. Yet almost $1 million in sales and use tax was charged to the Chiefs after making purchases for items like scoreboards, stadium signs and video monitors.

The question revolves around whether the team is considered the owner of the improvements made during stadium renovations or if that distinction belongs to the sports authority.

If the Chiefs are the owners, then they are liable for the taxes. But if they are considered to be just a contractor, then they would not.

Assistant Deputy Attorney General for Special Litigation Justin Smith argued that no one else has been considered the owner except the Chiefs.

“The purchase orders don’t reference the county with that title,” Smith said.

Attorney Mark Olthoff, who represented the Chiefs, argued that since Jackson County owns the actual stadium, then the team should not be taxed for these renovations.

“While the Chiefs are listed as the owner, it’s very clear that the only owner was the county,” Olthoff said.

The Chiefs name was listed on the purchase orders and they were able to choose the items for the stadium. “Under the sales and use tax, since they are the purchaser, they are responsible for that,” Smith said.

But if the Chiefs were ever to move, then they would most likely leave these fixtures and items at Arrowhead Stadium.

Missouri Supreme Court Judge Laura Denvir Stith questioned whether the title of “owner” makes the final decision in determining the sales and use tax issue.

“Is that the end-all, be-all?” Stith said.

The court will announce its ruling at a later date.

Supervising editor is Mark Horvit, horvitm@missouri.edu.

This article originally ran on columbiamissourian.com.

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