Financial problems are delaying GoodSports Enterprises projects in other cities, but developer Jerald Good says that’s not the case in Wichita.
He says, in fact, that Wichita will serve as a model to help other projects eventually get built.
“So we pulled back, and we said, ‘OK, let’s get Wichita done,’” Good says.
“It’s going to be pretty tight, but we’re going to get in the ground by the end of the year on the field house.”
Good and a group of developers have been working for several years on a 13-acre parcel at K-96 and Greenwich where they plan to put a 65,000-square-foot multisport athletic facility, which will target regional and national tournaments, and an adjacent 120-room hotel for young athletes and their families.
“They call it youth sports tourism,” Good says.
He planned similar projects that are now on hold in places such as Ohio and Indiana.
“We have had our problems,” he says. “I have built and owned a lot of hotels. … I have never seen a time that’s more difficult.”
At the beginning of the year, Good attempted to close on a $134 million loan, which would have funded about six GoodSports projects. It didn’t happen, and that’s been his biggest issue, Good says.
“We had all these preparations, we had everything rolling, and then at the last minute, bang.”
By late spring, Good says, “We were out then hunting for new money.”
He says he’s learned a few things since then.
“One thing is that nobody wants to loan money on a field house,” he says. “They want to have a project up and running and with good numbers.”
The issue with that, Good says, is field houses aren’t money generators themselves.
“Lenders are not hot on financing a field house, so you have to have community support,” Good says.
That’s where Wichita is different, he says.
GoodSports is receiving a portion of the $122 million sales tax and revenue bonds that are going to improve the area, including a K-96 interchange.
“Our portion of that is $5 1/2 million for the field house on a $22 million project,” Good says.
He says that means financing is in place for the first phase. Good says he plans to break ground on the hotel in the first quarter or early in the second quarter. He says financing is in place for it through private and institutional sources.
A development agreement stipulates that Good must have his financing, plans and permits in place by the end of the year and that construction must begin on the field house by Jan. 1.
“It’s going to be pretty close,” he says. “We’re scrambling to get the architectural work done on the site. The master developer has done a good job getting the land cleared and everything.”
Under the development agreement, the master developer – Wichita Destination Developers – would take over the project if Good doesn’t meet his deadlines.
He says he’s confident he will, though.
“We’re in the engineering process,” Good says.
“I have to submit my plans to the city, and I have to pull permits. … Once I pull permits, I’m ready to go,” he says. “Once we get the shovels in the ground everybody will be happy again.”
Good says everyone will have reason to be since the complex is expected to attract enough people annually to bring about $45 million in potential revenue to the city through hotel rooms, restaurants and stores.
“It’s a cheap investment,” he says.
“We spent three years working with the city for one reason: The city needs new growth. They need new revenues coming in.”
Good says he in turn expects other cities to see what happens here so he can begin his projects there.
“The project is going to be great for the community,” he says. “We’re excited about it. It’s our first real model.”