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Wichita Ballpark Development Deal Vote Delayed

New Wichita Ballpark Design 3

Action on a potential Wichita ballpark development land deal has been delayed, as the Wichita City Council opted Tuesday to hold off on voting on the proposal. 

Set to open in 2020 for the relocating New Orleans Baby Cakes (Class AAA; Pacific Coast League), the new Wichita ballpark is expected to anchor new mixed-use development that would take place on surrounding property. Details about a deal intended to facilitate the development emerged over the weekend, with the city revealing it would sell 24 acres at $1 an acre to the group Wichita Riverfront LP. The group, which features a contingent that includes Baby Cakes franchise owners–led by Managing General Partner Lou Schwechheimer–plus local investors, would in turn develop the land as part of an agreement that calls for completing 65,000 square feet of commercial space by 2025.

A vote on the proposal was expected Tuesday, but the city council postponed its decision, reportedly citing technical issues with posting information about the agreement to its website as a factor. It remains to be seen how the city will proceed from here, but thus far the proposed land deal has created some controversy locally. Proponents–including mayor Jeff Longwell–argue that it is the best way to jump start a development that will create economic benefits, but other community leaders see it is as a bad deal for the city. More from the Wichita Eagle:

Longwell said the deal is worth much more to the city than the $1 an acre price tag as a quality of life amenity. He also says the new developments will help pay off the stadium and generate tax revenue for the city….

“It’s ridiculous that our city keeps giving away prime real estate next to nothing,” said Jim Martinson, who is on an advisory board that has been reviewing Delano’s master plan, one of the plans that will set standards for development around the ballpark. “That’s ignorant.”

Martinson said he understands the city needs to provide an incentive to the team and make a reasonable deal, but he said this isn’t one.

Further discussion by the city council on the proposal has reportedly been pushed back to March 19.

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