As a sign of their willingness to consider a new ballpark, Wichita officials have scheduled a public hearing on the matter for December 6.
It was possible for some time that Wichita would enter the fray in the bid for the San Antonio Missions (Class AA; Texas League), and efforts by the city in recent months have accelerated those talks. By expanding an existing sales tax and revenue (STAR) bond, Wichita would finance the construction of a new ballpark on the site of Lawrence-Dumont Stadium.
As compared to a Lawrence-Dumont Stadium renovation, a brand new ballpark is more likely to appeal to a Texas League franchise. Wichita officials, including mayor Jeff Longwell, are already providing some details on how the facility could look. More from the Wichita Eagle:
The overall vision would be to circle the stadium with “new fan experiences that reach all the way around the stadium,” including a museum dedicated to the National Baseball Congress tournament and players who competed in it before they became stars, he said.
“The reality is today’s fans want to be able to gather at a ballpark with their friends and then someone might say, ‘Oh, I think there’s a game going on tonight,’ ” Longwell said. “It (a new stadium) creates just an atmosphere that welcomes those kinds of gatherings and includes a baseball game.
“They’re not going just for the baseball game anymore, they’re going for the entire experience.”
The STAR bond would be backed by sales taxes generated by the project, which would include the ballpark and surrounding development. While this news is certainly an indicator of Wichita’s interest, the situation surrounding the Missions is not exactly clear cut. San Antonio is still trying to figure how to pay for a new ballpark to attract the Colorado Springs Sky Sox (Class AAA; Pacific Coast League), a project that would free up the Texas League’s Missions. In the event that the Missions relocate, Wichita would also face competition from Amarillo, which is pitching a new downtown facility.
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