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Local developers for GoodSports project identified

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Saturday, Sep. 7, 2013, at 2:33 p.m.
  • Updated Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2013, at 5:55 a.m.

The final governmental step for a northeast Wichita sports-themed development could come Tuesday before the Wichita City Council.

The council is expected to approve a development plan for the approximately $122 million GoodSports STAR bond project at K-96 and Greenwich Road. It’s the final step before dirt is turned in early 2014 on the project site and on improvements to the highway interchange.

City documents released last week show the project is largely in the hands of three local developers.

GoodSports — owned by Floridian Jerald Good — is the developer for the fieldhouse. The adjoining property will be developed by Wichita Destination Developers Inc., made up of Kansas City developer Rick Worner and local developers Christian Ablah, Mike Boyd and Tom Boyd, all equal partners. The documents represent the first time that local partners in the project have been publicly identified.

Included in the development plan is a unique clawback for the city to guarantee that the project proceeds: The proposed agreement gives the city the right after five years to buy any undeveloped STAR bond tracts for $1.

Plans call for work to begin on interchange improvements at K-96 and Greenwich on March 1, 2014, with completion by April 1, 2015. Developers will begin work June 1, 2014, on on-site public infrastructure that will be complete by Jan. 1, 2015. And work will begin Jan. 1, 2015, on the centerpiece of the development, the GoodSports Fieldhouse, with completion by March 15, 2016. Also included with the fieldhouse is work on an adjoining hotel.

The Kansas Department of Commerce has approved $31.5 million in sales tax and revenue, or STAR, bonds to finance construction of the fieldhouse, including almost $8 million for land acquisition, infrastructure improvements, design costs and an adjoining water sports attraction. STAR bonds, or sales tax and revenue bonds, use sales tax revenue generated by a development to pay off bonds that finance major commercial entertainment and tourism areas.

Beyond the STAR bond revenue, about $90 million is developer equity.

The first phase will be anchored by GoodSports Fieldhouse, a 65,000-square-foot multisport athletic facility targeting regional and national tournaments. Developers say 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 fieldhouse is projected to draw 300,000 visitors a year.

Adjacent to the fieldhouse will be a 150-room hotel targeting young athletes and their families. 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.

On Aug. 6, the council approved a special sales tax to patch together financing for improvements to the Greenwich interchange on K-96, the key turn-off serving the GoodSports complex along with stores such as Cabela’s and Target.

The project’s first phase includes the $9.5 million completion of the K-96 interchange. The original plans earmarked $7.5 million of the STAR bond revenue and $2 million from the city’s 10-year capital improvements program. That deal had to be reworked after the state approved only $3.8 million for the interchange.

The new financing plan includes the state STAR bond money, $2.5 million from the city’s capital improvements fund, $2.2 million from the special sales tax to be generated by a community improvement district and $1 million from a similar district already established for Cabela’s.

Reach Bill Wilson at 316-268-6290 or bwilson@wichitaeagle.com. Follow him on Twitter: @bwilsoneagle.

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