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City Council gives go-ahead on GoodSports athletic complex

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Tuesday, Sep. 10, 2013, at 12:58 p.m.
  • Updated Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2013, at 5:55 a.m.

Construction could begin later this year on a $120 million sports-themed development at K-96 and Greenwich.

The Wichita City Council cleared the way Tuesday for work to begin on the GoodSports Fieldhouse complex, unanimously approving a development agreement with the project’s backers.

“We’re extremely excited after two and a half to three years of working with the city to sign this development agreement,” said Kansas City attorney Korb Maxwell. He represents Jerald Good, developer of the GoodSports Fieldhouse that is the centerpiece of the project, and Wichita developers Christian Ablah and Tom and Mike Boyd.

Maxwell’s group gave the city a conservative time line: work on interchange improvements at K-96 and Greenwich between March 1, 2014, and April 1, 2015; work on on-site public infrastructure between June 1, 2014, and Jan. 1, 2015; and work on the GoodSports Fieldhouse between Jan. 1, 2015, and March 15, 2016. Included with the fieldhouse is work on an adjoining hotel.

But he called that time line a “back-end plan,” saying he hopes construction can begin on the fieldhouse this winter if developers can close on the project land next month. Construction on the infrastructure could begin as early as this fall.

The project 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.

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.

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.

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 interchange 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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