At a meeting on Tuesday, the Wichita City Council approved the expansion of a special taxing district for a development that could include a new ballpark.
In recent months, Wichita has made a push to build a new ballpark, which could be used to attract a Minor League Baseball franchise. Wichita has been mentioned in connection with the San Antonio Missions (Class AA; Texas League), who could relocate if the City of San Antonio eventually moves forward with a proposed new ballpark for the Colorado Springs Sky Sox (Class AAA; Pacific Coast league). The arrival of Class AAA baseball in San Antonio would free up the Class AA Missions, who have engaged in talks with Amarillo, TX about a new facility.
The 7-0 vote on Tuesday clears the way for the more projects to be completed through an existing sales tax and revenue (STAR) bond. While the STAR bond still requires formal approval from the State of Kansas, Wichita officials are hopeful that the decision will lead to some clarification on whether the construction of a new facility is feasible. More from The Wichita Eagle:
The biggest want is for a new $40 million to $60 million stadium to replace the 82-year-old Lawrence-Dumont Stadium, now the home field of the independent Wichita Wingnuts baseball team.
Officials are hoping that a new ballpark will attract a Major League Baseball-affiliated farm team, which the city hasn’t had since the Wichita Wranglers left town for a new stadium in Arkansas after the 2007 season.
The city also has a request for proposals out seeking a developer to build a commercial district, now known as the Delano Catalyst, on city surplus property between the new library site on McLean and the stadium.
The city does not yet know how many dollars will be generated by the expanded STAR bond district, said development analyst Mark Elder. Those numbers will be included in a report due to the council on Dec. 20. A final site plan for the area will come sometime after that.
That report also is expected to show whether there will be enough money to completely replace Lawrence-Dumont or only enough to renovate it, Elder said.
Lawrence-Dumont Stadium is currently home to the annual National Baseball Congress World Series, as well as the Wichita Wingnuts (independent; American Association). The ballpark hosted the city’s last affilited team, the Wichita Wranglers (Class AA; Texas League), which called Wichita home from 1987-2007.
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