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Plans for New Wichita Ballpark Take Shape

New Wichita ballpark

More details are emerging on a new Wichita ballpark, as officials continue planning the upcoming facility for the New Orleans Baby Cakes (Class AAA; Pacific Coast League). 

Wichita officials are planning to demolish Lawrence-Dumont Stadium by the end of this year, a move that would clear the way for a new ballpark on the same site. The new ballpark project is estimated to cost as much as $83 million, a figure that includes $75 million for the facility itself plus an additional $8 million for infrastructure improvements, including a pedestrian bridge that would cross the Arkansas River.

A draft agreement that was discussed by the Wichita City Council on Tuesday offered more details on the ballpark’s specifications. It will feature 6,500 to 7,000 fixed seats, with group areas and other spaces bringing the ballpark’s total capacity to around 10,000. Under the current timeline, construction will begin next April and be completed in time for the 2020 season. More from The Wichita Eagle:

Seating, financing and a rough timeline were among the topics covered in a discussion of the agreement by Wichita City Council on Tuesday. The city council will take action on the agreement next week.

According to a timeline presented by Scot Rigby, assistant city manager for development services, Lawrence-Dumont is expected to be demolished by the end of the year. Construction on the new ball park will start in April and will be completed by March 15, 2020 — just in time for the 2020 season.

The city will pay as much as $83 million for the development project, which includes a pedestrian bridge across the Arkansas River. Development in the area is projected to draw 888,400 visitors a year, Rigby said.

The Triple-A team is expected to spend between $5 million and $7 million on furniture, fixtures and equipment at the stadium.

Discussions of the ballpark project come as Wichita works to land its first affiliated minor league team since the Wichita Wranglers (Class AA; Texas League) departed for Northwest Arkansas prior to the 2008 season. A Class AA Southern League team is expected to move to New Orleans at the same time that the Pacific Coast League franchise relocates to Wichita. The move of a as-of-yet-unanounced Southern League team would come under the ownership of the current New Orleans ownership, led by Lou Schwechheimer, allowing the Baby Cakes moniker to live on in New Orleans while the Wichita club receives a name of its own.

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