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Mayor, fans upset by new 8% Wind Surge ballpark fee

Wichita Wind Surge smallA new 8 percent surcharge on Riverfront Stadium tickets, food, beverage and merchandise purchases has the mayor and fans upset about hidden fees at Wichita Wind Surge (Double-A; Texas League) games.

The surcharge is billed as a ballpark development fee, used to fund further development around Riverfront Stadium–and there is plenty of it–but not disclosed to city officials. By the time sales tax is applied to purchases, fans will have paid 18.26 percent in additional fees to any Riverfront Stadium purchases. From the Wichita Eagle:

On top of that $60 base price [for merchandise purchases], the Wind Surge added an 8% ($4.80) ballpark development fee. Then, a 9.5% sales tax was calculated based on the listed price and the added fee, bringing the total to $70.96.

The fee came as a surprise to city officials. The city paid for the stadium and owns it, but all sales within the ballpark are managed by the Wind Surge.

“This is the first I’m hearing of this,” Mayor Brandon Whipple said Thursday afternoon. “It sounds to me like something Derek Schmidt’s office should be looking into as a consumer protection issue.”

(Derek Schmidt is the Kansas state attorney.)

The city paid for ballpark construction, with the team promising to invest in ballpark-area development–a promise fueled by the sale of 4.5 acres of waterfront to team ownership for $1. According to Jordan Kobritz, CEO of the Wind Surge, the fee is designed to offset money already spent on ballpark-area development: “We actually invested close to $10 million, so this ballpark development fee is designed to recoup some of that, obviously over a period of time,” he said. “We are in the process of beginning the development around the ballpark, and we will have tens of millions of dollars of expenses associated with that, and so that fee will help [offset] some of those costs as well.”

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