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Lawrence-Dumont Stadium renovations debated

National Baseball CongressLawrence-Dumont Stadium could be renovated with city backing, as Wichita officials are looking at an expansion of the National Baseball Congress in coming years.

Lawrence-Dumont Stadium is also home of the Wichita Wingnuts (independent; American Association), but the renovations aren’t being discussed in the context of pro ball; rather, the city is looking at changes to boost the 80-year-old NBC, an two-week amateur tourney that’s lost some lustre in recent years. It used to be that the NBC was the crowning event to the summer-collegiate season, but with the rise of larger summer-collegiate league — like the Northwoods League, the Cape Cod League, the West Coast League — running their own postseason tourneys, the NBC has suffered.

But some in Wichita want to see the tourney upgraded, and that means forming a nonprofit to run it. Currently the NBC is run by the Wingnuts, but a propoed nonprofit — awaiting IRS approval — would take over the tourney and expand the volunteer base. With a potential TV contract in the works, the city is also looking at renovations to WPA-era Lawrence-Dumont Stadium, including a rebuilding of the grandstand, according to the Wichita Eagle:

Meanwhile, council members are considering significant improvements to Lawrence-Dumont Stadium – up to and including a total reconstruction of the ballpark’s grandstand area – funded either through the city’s capital improvements program or possibly by inclusion in a citywide sales tax vote that could take place as early as this fall.

The organizational changes are the latest moves in a months-long effort by the city to revitalize the tournament. The effort was prompted 18 months ago by an Eagle story about the tournament’s mounting financial problems, including delinquent payments to participating teams.

Delinquent team payments continued to be an issue after the 2013 tournament. Despite promises in early summer that teams would be paid a couple of weeks after the tournament, those checks didn’t go out until late fall, city officials said. Eventually, the tournament winner needs to earn between $25,000 and $30,000 – up from the current $19,000 – as the tournament stabilizes financially, those officials said.

One big reason for going nonprofit: corporate contributions would be easier to solicit, as many companies won’t enter sponsorship deals wth a for-profit organization.


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