With the biggest objection to a new Wichita Triple-A ballpark being parking availability, city officials are working to create enough spots in the area — and those plans are changing once again.
It’s a delicate balancing act looking at the needs of the team and its development efforts, outside developers and neighborhood residents when it comes to shoehorning a new ballpark in an urban area and eliminating plenty of surface lots in the process. And while parking is always a huge issue in any new urban ballpark, the issues to be a more sensitive one in Wichita.
So city leaders have worked to add additional parking to the mix, but the plans have been changed. The current plan now calls for the city to acquire additional land west of the ballpark for a six-story ramp, but the ramp may be located in another spot. From the Wichita Eagle:
Two different overhead views of the ballpark area were released this month. The first one showed a parking garage straddling city and church-owned property north of the ballpark, close to the development. The garage was moved to exclusively city-owned property in a later plan….
The church-site developers — George Laham, Dave Burk, Dave Wells and Jerry Jones — plan to add parking around their development, but would still require access to other parking options, Layton said. Laham, Burk and Wells developed the River Vista Apartments just north of the Metropolitan Church site.
“We believe that in order to support the development at the church property they’re going to need some surface parking, and that’s in their plans,” Layton said.
As noted, parking is always a concern when a new sports facility ends up in an urban area. But the days of a suburban sports facility surrounded by a sea of parking–which creates zero revenue if there’s no game scheduled–are gone, and the experience from other similar situations shows that residents will adjust once the ballpark opens.
Construction on the ballpark is underway, with a goal of opening it in time for the 2020 season. When the franchise debuts the new ballpark, it will mark the first time that Wichita has an affiliated Minor League Baseball team of its own since the Wichita Wranglers (Class AA; Texas League) relocated to Springdale, AR after the 2007 season to become the Northwest Arkansas Naturals.
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