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Wichita Amends Special Tax District Around New Ballpark

Updated Wichita Ballpark rendering 4-9-19

Wichita officials have amended a special tax district around a new Wichita Wind Surge (Class AAA; Pacific Coast League) ballpark, solidifying a funding source for the facility and potentially other projects.

Currently under construction at the former site of Lawrence-Dumont Stadium, the new Wichita ballpark is scheduled to host its first game for the Wind Surge–the former New Orleans Baby Cakes–on April 14. The ballpark is being constructed as part of a planned redevelopment initiative in the surrounding area, and it has been expected that revenue from that revenue from a Community Improvement District (CID) will help cover the city’s share of debt on the $75-million ballpark, along with costs associated with ancillary private development.

During a meeting on Tuesday, the Wichita City Council approved an amendment that expands the CID. The CID will feature a sales tax increase of two cents on the dollar for a period of 22 years, with no cap on the amount of revenue that can be collected from this area. The amendment allows for the possibility of the city collecting funding that could be allocated toward other projects, including convention centers and public auditoriums within the CID boundaries. More from the Wichita Eagle:

The city has a tax revenue sharing agreement on a planned development at the Metropolitan Baptist Church site. The city will share the CID generated on that property with developers George Laham, Dave Well, Dave Burk and Jerry Jones. The city will get the first $10 million collected at the church site from the additional sales tax through the CID. The developers will get the next $30 million, and the city and developers take a 50-50 split of anything collected above $40 million.

Century II was removed from early versions of a proposed tax district after Music Theatre Wichita and others objected to using sales taxes generated by performing arts tickets on the ballpark project and not a new performing arts center or convention center.

The City Council amended the district to allow the added sales tax in the ballpark CID district to fund convention centers and public auditoriums within the district boundaries.

The district does not include existing businesses in Delano, but covers most of the area from Douglas to Kellogg between McLean and Sycamore. It also covers a parking lot north of the Drury Plaza Hotel Broadview at First and Waco that could later be developed by the Wind Surge team owners. It has been expanded across the river to include most of the land south of Waterman to Main bound to the south by Kellogg.

The Wind Surge is scheduled to play its home opener at the new Wichita ballpark on April 14 against the Memphis Redbirds. When Wind Surge debuts, it will mark the first time that Wichita has had 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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