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T-Bones ballpark sale: Winners and losers

CommunityAmerica Ballpark

A sale of CommunityAmerica Ballpark, home of the Kansas City T-Bones (independent; American Association), to local governments is creating ripple effects throughout the city and county.

Some background: the Unified Government of Wyandotte County and Kansas City, Kansas has a agreement in place to buy CommunityAmerica Ballpark from Ehlert Development, owned by the T-Bones owners, for $5.5 million. Another $2.5 million has been allocated for ballpark improvements, bringing the cost of the transaction to $8 million. Ehlert Development, which privately financed the ballpark via BMO Harris Bank and still owes $9.5 million on the loan, will take a bath on the deal.

As will local units of government, according to the Kansas City Star, which featured an in-depth look at the ballpark financing today. With the ballpark being privately financed and owned, the Ehlerts were on the hook for $178,000 in property taxes — property taxes that will go off the rolls in 2014.

So, besides that, what do taxpayers get for their $8 million? They get the continued presence of the T-Bones, a team on financial straits because of the ballpark albatross. Local officials say the T-Bones generate $5.5 million in economic activity in the Village West area, so the team staying put maintains the status quo. The ballpark will remain open and not left to decay, although the deal also relies on a lease for the T-Bones, and those terms need to be finalized.

There will be a public hearing on the matter Thursday, and you can bet the Unified Board of Commissioners will have plenty to say on the matter: Wyandotte County Administrator Dennis Hays made payments totaling $87,000 to the T-Bones without reporting it to the board of commissioners or the mayor: the money was used to ensure the team would not default on the BMO Harris Bank loan and actually play in 2013. Some commissioners and the new mayor are upset that negotiations took place in secret. Still, the purchase is a relatively minor one given the economic activity in the area: Sales Tax Revenue Bonds would be used for the purchase, and they’d be paid off by 2017.

RELATED STORIES: Wyandotte County/Kansas City to buy CommunityAmerica Ballpark

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