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Vote on Wichita Ballpark Design/Build Team Delayed

Wichita ballpark Riverside Village development

In order to take more time to review the recommended bid, the Wichita City Council opted Tuesday to delay voting on a design-build team for a new ballpark for the relocating New Orleans Baby Cakes (Class AAA; Pacific Coast League). 

A selection committee consisting of city officials and officials from the Baby Cakes recently recommended that a joint bid from DLR Group (Overland Park, Kan.), JE Dunn Construction (Kansas City) and three Wichita construction firms be awarded the design-build contract for the new ballpark. Issues over the preferred bid were expressed by a firm that was part of a competing pitch, however, as the qualifications of JE Dunn were questioned. Specifically, the issue was whether the construction firm has had experience with three MiLB or MLB ballpark construction projects, and whether the experience needed to be cumulative within the group or with each design/construction firm.

While the committee found that the joint submission met the needed three-ballpark criteria, the city council is delaying its decision. Wichita mayor Jeff Longwell was among those that felt comfortable moving forward with the committee’s recommendation, but City Council member Bryan Frye asked for more time to review the agreement. The council approved his request 4-3, effectively delaying any decision by at least a week. More from the Wichita Eagle:

Frye objected that he got the contract the morning of Tuesday’s council meeting and said he wanted additional time to verify that the group recommended to design and build the stadium has the required experience in constructing Major or Minor League ballparks….

Mayor Jeff Longwell said he was comfortable with the experience of the design-build team after a presentation by Don Barnum of the DLR Group, who outlined the company’s experience with dozens of ballparks around the country over the past 30 years.

Longwell said he shared Frye’s frustration over the last-minute delivery of the contract, but said he was willing to go forward because “we are on a tight time frame.”

He called the ballpark “a transformational piece of our community (that will benefit) generations to come,” and said he was ready to get the project underway.

The ballpark is slated to be constructed on the site of Lawrence-Dumont Stadium, and is planned as part of a larger development project. Its current schedule calls for it to open in 2020, with the city expected to spend more than $80 million on project costs–including the ballpark itself and related infrastructure improvements.

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