Remember all that talk from Wichita Mayor Jeff Longwell about MiLB teams lining up to move to a new ballpark? Apparently the queue is a lot shorter, and the city is hiring Beacon Sports to lure a team to a Lawrence-Dumont Stadium replacement, to the tune of $50,000.
It was never clear what MiLB teams Longwell claimed were a lock for a move to Wichita: running down the leagues that could conceivably play out of the Kansas city (Pacific Coast League, Texas League) didn’t yield any franchise available for a move. And, apparently, those expressing doubt about Wichita landing an MiLB team were correct: there was not a line of teams ready to move. In fact, none. So Wichita hired Beacon Sports, which had previously been working with the city on an MiLB bid, to go out and beat the bushes. From the Wichita Eagle:
“City staff have reached the conclusion that, due to Minor League Baseball (MiLB) rules and protocols, it is necessary to formally contract with a specialized baseball consultant,” a staff report to the council said. “Beacon’s primary responsibility will be to officially contact and negotiate with interested leagues and team ownership executives on behalf of the City with the goal of securing the return of affiliated baseball to Wichita.”
The council approved the expenditure on its consent agenda without discussion or debate.
Beacon has already been consulting with the city on market comparisons, league comparisons and recent baseball stadium designs and costs.
The city is planning a special taxing district to generate to generate tens of millions of dollars to replace or dramatically renovate the aging Lawrence-Dumont Stadium with hopes of landing an affiliated tenant team.
Let’s go back in time and review what Longwell said on Aug. 30 of this year: “By the end of this calendar year, we feel confident that we will be able to announce a team, who the team is, all of the above,” Longwell told The Eagle Tuesday afternoon. “We hope that we can complete all of those conversations by the end of this year and be able to announce a contract in place.”
The irony is that Wichita has a perfectly good independent team with local ownership, the Wichita Wingnuts (independent; American Association). The American Association has a great record of new ballpark being part of urban revitalization efforts: CHS Field, home of the St. Paul Saints, should be the blueprint for any Lawrence-Dumont Stadium changes, as that ballpark is central to Lowertown revitalization
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