With a proposed Southwest League ballpark scheduled to open next spring, Bellmead, TX officials are evaluating the city’s options for funding the facility.
An initiative from Mark Schuster and his Ventura Sports Group, the independent Southwest League is slated for a 2018 launch. Bellmead is expected to be one of its charter members, as the city located near Waco has discussed a proposed $11 million, 2,000-fixed-seat ballpark that would be constructed to also host non-baseball events.
Ventura and the city are discussing a funding model for the ballpark that would include $4 million in private contributions, which would be matched in public funds. The remaining $3 million would be raised through ballpark naming rights.
Thus far, city officials are open to the project, but are weighing their options when it comes to timing. Discussions about the funding are expected to continue into February and, if the city deems a referendum necessary, voters would have their say on the proposal in May.
Over the coming weeks, Bellmead officials say they want to sort through their options for raising the public contribution. More from the Waco Tribune-Herald:
Elected officials have had preliminary discussions about how to pay the city’s share, but likely won’t make a decision until early February as to which direction they will take, City Manager Bo Thomas said.
Thomas is developing a plan to finance that $4 million without raising property taxes or sales tax.
“That comes with a couple of caveats,” he said.
Thomas said he sees a few funding options: raising the hotel/motel tax, local borrowing or a combined effort with the help of the city’s economic development fund. Increasing the hotel/motel tax rate would require a vote by residents, he said. The city will also consider asking voters whether they want officials using the economic development sales tax dollars to fund the development of the facility, Thomas said.
The Southwest League will begin play next April with six teams in Texas. In November, the league announced that the Bellmead club would be named the Waco BlueCats.