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Public can hear about Coliseum plans Oct. 27

Saddle Rock Rodeo Resort is one plan for the Kansas Coliseum.   courtesy art
Saddle Rock Rodeo Resort is one plan for the Kansas Coliseum. courtesy art

WICHITA — Three development groups hoping to drive the future of the Kansas Coliseum will present their ideas to Sedgwick County commissioners and the public on Oct. 27.

The presentations will be open to the public, but people will not be allowed to comment. The public will be able to ask questions and make comments at a later commission meeting.

The county had requested proposals for ideas for developing the aging complex in July. Developers submitted their plans Aug. 25. The plans had been kept private by the county until last week.

Sedgwick County recently put each proposal on its Web site, www.sedgwickcounty.org.

Three groups have pitched ideas for the Coliseum complex: Hartman Arena; Heritage Development Group /Walz Harman Huffman Construction/Adventure RV and Truck Center/Adventureland RV Rentals and Sales; and North American Management-Kansas/The Law Company/LawKingdon Architecture.

Each group will make a presentation Oct. 27 in the commission chambers on the third floor of the courthouse, 525 N. Main. The meetings will be from 9 a.m. to noon and 2:30 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Hartman will present at 9 a.m., followed by North American Management-Kansas. Heritage is scheduled for 2:30 p.m.

All three groups have said they plan to continue use of the complex's pavilions, where many livestock and dog groups have held events since the Coliseum opened in 1978.

Here's a summary of the three plans:

* Hartman Arena's proposal would keep the Coliseum complex largely the same. It would book events only for the floor of Britt Brown Arena or at the pavilions to avoid the arena's current noncompliance issues with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Hartman would maintain the interior of the pavilions, and the county would be responsible for lawn care. Project costs were listed as "to be determined." Financing is to come from the county. Hartman would not build any new facilities at the complex.

* Heritage Development Group would build a venue called "Saddle Rock Rodeo Resort." It would build new horse barns and two new pavilions. It proposes shutting Britt Brown until the county decides its future. The group proposes building a 50- to 70-room hotel with shuttle service to downtown Wichita. Adventure RV & Truck Center would operate Weidemann Park and build a new sales and service center on the northwest corner of the park. The service center would be open 24 hours a day, and a 24-hour restaurant is planned. Upgrades to RV camping also are planned, as is a clubhouse. Hundreds of new RV stalls would be added. A spokesman said Heritage would finance the project with a mix of private money, STAR bonds and use of a community Improvement District, which would allow it to collect a 2 percent sales tax. Tax increment financing also would be a possibility.

* North American Management-Kansas LLC and partners the Law Co. and LawKingdon Architecture plan to add three hotels and 250,000 square feet of mixed-use retail. Its proposal would reduce fixed seating in Britt Brown Arena so that it can be more flexible for large events. The group wouldn't change the pavilions or horse arena. It would continue similar events in the facilities. Weidemann Park wouldn't be changed.

NORAM would use some private investment. But it also would ask the county to approve a tax increment finance district and STAR bonds to help finance its plans. Those allow some sales and property taxes collected in the immediate area to pay for public improvements such as landscaping, property acquisition and street and utility upgrades.

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