Amidst debate over a proposal to sell land surrounding a new Wichita ballpark for redevelopment, franchise Managing General Partner Lou Schwechheimer is pitching it as a crucial part of the project.
Set to open in 2020 for the relocating New Orleans Baby Cakes (Class AAA; Pacific Coast League), the new Wichita ballpark is envisioned as anchor for future mixed-use development on surrounding land. Under a recently announced proposal intended to facilitate the development, the city would sell 4.5 of 24 acres of surrounding land at $1 an acre to the group Wichita Riverfront LP. The group, which features a contingent that includes Baby Cakes franchise owners–led by Schwechheimer–plus additional 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.
Since the proposal was unveiled, it has prompted plenty of debate over the economic implications for the city and whether Wichita officials should pursue a better deal. A final decision is not expected for at least another two weeks–a city council vote scheduled for Tuesday was pushed back to March 19–and Schwechheimer is lobbying for its approval. More from the Wichita Eagle:
“The development agreement is part of a larger agreement, and at the end of the day, we feel comfortable,” Schwechheimer said. “Our handshake is our bond. We have every intention of spending the rest of our lives in Wichita. End of story. I’ve said that since day one.”
Even without a deal?
“The private development is what’s critical because it allows us to create the family values,” Schwechheimer said. “Our top ticket price is going to be $15.”
He said the amenities he plans — restaurants, a hotel, a Ferris wheel and an outdoor ice skating rink among other things — will generate enough money that he can offer lots of deals on tickets.
Wichita has already demolished Lawrence-Dumont Stadium to clear way for the new ballpark, which will occupy the same site but with a slightly different footprint.
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