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IMAX theater would be tourism draw

The Wichita City Council needs to carefully evaluate at its meeting today whether the benefits exceed the costs of helping finance a luxury IMAX auditorium and other improvements at the Warren Theatre at 21st and Tyler. It likely will conclude that they do — as did an analysis by the Center for Economic Development and Business Research at Wichita State University. In addition to the city issuing up to $16 million in industrial revenue bonds — which, unlike a 2008 loan to the Old Town Warren Theatre, would not involve taxpayer money — the theater would receive a sales tax exemption during construction and a 10-year property tax abatement, though it has agreed to make annual payments in lieu of taxes equal to its 2009 taxes plus a 2.3 percent annual increase.Though the state-of-the-art digital IMAX theater would create only about 25 jobs, it would provide a significant quality of life boost to Wichita residents and be a tourism draw in the region, which would benefit other local businesses. Wichita is already a movie-watching mecca, thanks to Warren complexes. An digital IMAX theater would make it even more so, drawing an estimated 300,000 new visitors, half of whom would be from beyond Wichita.