Wichita officials have signed off on a proposed sales tax bond district that could include a new ballpark to replace Lawrence-Dumont Stadium. The 7-0 vote, taken by the Wichita City Council on Tuesday, comes as the city continues to discuss the possibility of landing a Minor League Baseball franchise.
The proposal in Wichita calls for the city to use sales tax and revenue (STAR) bonds to cover a portion of the cost of a new ballpark. If it comes to fruition, the facility could host an affiliated MiLB team and the National Baseball Congress World Series, which is a yearly staple at Lawrence-Dumont Stadium.
There are numerous factors to consider in the question of whether city will land a minor league franchise, but the vote on Tuesday provides some idea of how the project will move forward. Increased sales tax revenue from the district, which includes the Lawrence-Dumont Stadium site, would be used to help pay down the STAR bonds for the project.
With that in mind, area officials are expressing their hope that the project would not only boost Wichita from a baseball perspective, but lead to development in the area surrounding the ballpark. More from the Wichita Eagle:
Bob Hanson, head of the Wichita Sports Commission, said after the vote that he wants to see baseball generate the kind of excitement and commerce the city will see next year when the NCAA basketball tournament comes to the Intrust Bank Arena.
“Just with the new NCAA events coming to town, you can see what you do when you get facilities,” he said. “They have a huge impact on the community.
“A new baseball stadium and whatever we can put together with that would be tremendous. There’s lots of opportunity.”
The stadium is envisioned as the anchor of major commercial development west of the Arkansas River downtown.
The plan is to build a restaurant, bar and entertainment area between the stadium to the south and the library to the north.
With this vote, the proposal for the STAR bond moves forward, though it will still require the approval of the Kansas Department of Commerce. The new facility could be built to accommodate soccer in addition to baseball. While a new ballpark is being discussed by the city, the alternative idea of investing in a major renovation to Lawrence-Dumont Stadium has not been completely ruled out.
In addition to the NBC World Series, Lawrence-Dumont Stadium is also home to the Wichita Wingnuts (independent; American Association). The Wingnuts have played at Lawrence-Dumont Stadium since the city’s last MiLB club, the Wichita Wranglers (Class AA; Texas), departed for Springdale, AR after the 2007 season.
RELATED STORIES: Wichita Wingnuts Weigh on Wichita’s Ballpark Pursuit; Debate Over New Wichita Ballpark Continues; Wichita Making Push for MiLB Team; Lawrence-Dumont Stadium Could be Demolished; Wichita Approves STAR Bonds for Ballpark; Wichita Schedules Hearing on Ballpark Plan; Wichita Prepping Bid for Texas League Return; Texas League Not Interested in Lawrence-Dumont Renovation; Should Wichita Pursue Texas League Team?