GoodSports got good news Tuesday when the Wichita City Council gave final unanimous approval to the Florida firm’s $429 million destination sports and entertainment complex at K-96 and Greenwich.
The fate of a multi-phase plan to build a 423-acre sports and entertainment development now goes to the Kansas Department of Commerce for final approval as a STAR bond project. That would make it eligible for an estimated $30 million in sales tax and revenue bonds toward the $124.8 million first phase.
Korb Maxwell, an attorney representing GoodSports, said after the vote that he expects action from the state within the next 90 days, with construction beginning in the spring. Developers estimate 1.9 million visitors annually to Wichita, 500,000 from out of state.
“We’re extremely excited,” Maxwell said after the vote. “This was a very positive step forward in the over two years we’ve been working to put this project together with the state and the city of Wichita. We feel confident we can work with the state to get approval and get approval quickly.”
The project drew unanimous support from the council — despite criticism from Occupy Wichita and opponents of public-private economic development partnerships.
Mike Shatz, a spokesman for Occupy Wichita, called for development in blighted areas of the city, such as South Broadway, before expansions like the GoodSports project.
“You’re giving tax dollars from the citizens of Wichita to already wealthy developers to create a lot of jobs keeping people below the poverty line ... ,” Shatz said. “We have a whole lot of homeless children in this city. How does this help them?”
Council members dismissed Shatz’s allegations as baseless.
“We recognize you can make any argument you choose,” Mayor Carl Brewer said during the meeting. “Cities that prosper, the things they have to do ... is make investments to do things. As long as we’re putting people to work and creating an environment ... where new businesses come to our community, it provides the opportunity to grow new business.”
“I don’t in any way see this project as giving tax dollars to the rich at the expense of the poor,” Vice Mayor Janet Miller said. “This project can bring increased tax dollars from outside the community that are reinvested in this community.
“While it would be nice for every job in this city to be high-paying, it’s important for us as a community to have a range of jobs from the lower-skilled to the higher-skilled.”
The first phase is anchored by GoodSports Fieldhouse, a 65,000-square-foot multi-sport athletic facility targeting regional and national tournaments. It will include 12 full-size basketball courts or 24 volleyball courts, and can house team sports competitions for basketball, volleyball, indoor soccer, wrestling and cheerleading. The field house is projected to draw 300,000 visitors a year.
Adjacent to the field house will be a 150-room hotel targeting young athletes and their families. Maxwell said GoodSports president Jerald Good and his partners are prepared to invest at least $90 million in private equity in the project.
Its target market is the stream of summer basketball tournaments sponsored by groups like Mid-America Youth Basketball and the Amateur Athletic Union, events that draw players, coaches, parents and families from across the region.
Phase one also includes the $9.5 million completion of the interchange at K-96 and Greenwich, earmarking $7.5 million of the STAR bond revenues and $2 million from the city’s 10-year capital improvements program.