As Wichita officials take a serious look at attracting affiliated baseball to the city, the owners of the Wichita Wingnuts (independent; American Association) are weighing in on the situation.
The Wingnuts currently play at Lawrence-Dumont Stadium, the facility they have used since their establishment in 2008. In recent months, Wichita officials, including mayor Jeff Longwell, have discussed the possibility of floating $40 million in sales tax and revenue (STAR) bonds to construct a new ballpark to replace Lawrence-Dumont Stadium and become the home of a Minor League Baseball franchise. (More on that situation here.)
According to Longwell, the STAR bonds have been granted preliminary approval by the State of Kansas, provided that Wichita uses the project to land an affiliated franchise. The pursuit of an MiLB team leaves the future of the Wingnuts in question, but the team’s owners are expressing support for the plan and would like to have a place in the ongoing discussions, according to Gary Austerman. More from The Wichita Eagle:
The Wingnuts support the planned construction of a new baseball stadium downtown, even if it leaves the independent baseball team’s fate uncertain at best.
The team wants a place in the discussion about the future of baseball in Wichita, though it appears increasingly likely it could continue without them.
“We are all for a new stadium, and if a new stadium means affiliated baseball, we’re all for that,” said Gary Austerman, who owns the Wingnuts along with Steve Ruud and Nate Robertson. “We want the best for Wichita. We understand, we’re realistic as a business, so we’re all in as far as that’s concerned.”
The Wingnuts, who currently share Lawrence-Dumont Stadium with National Baseball Congress, arrived shortly after Wichita’s last affiliated franchise–the Wichita Wranglers (Class AA; Texas League)–departed the city after the 2007 season.
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