Politics & Government

Wichita takes $29.5 million step toward new stadium for sports, concerts

The Wichita Eagle

Moving to renovate or replace Lawrence-Dumont Stadium and spruce up the Delano business district, the City Council approved a plan Tuesday calling for as much as $29.5 million in spending.

At least $20 million would be financed by borrowing against future property taxes.

The project plan envisions turning Lawrence-Dumont into a combination baseball park and soccer field that could also host more concerts and festivals.

It would also fund additional parking and a greenway walking and bike path behind the businesses on the north side of Douglas in Delano.

The stadium renovation is intended “to create activity year-round in that stadium not just focused on baseball games,” said city analyst Mark Elder.

Mayor Jeff Longwell said he was “excited about the opportunity to see investment come to the core of the city.”

He said he expects the project to increase activity around and in the Arkansas River, including bike and boat rentals and other activities.

“I think it’s exciting for all of Wichita,” Longwell said.

The project plan includes:

▪ Stadium improvements, $12.5 million.

▪ Parking, $9 million.

▪ Street improvements, $4.5 million.

▪ Contingency funds, $1.5 million.

▪ Greenway and path, $1 million.

▪ Financing costs, $1 million.

To pay for that $29.5 million in costs, the city will borrow $20 million in bonds.

Those loans will be paid back via tax-increment financing – diverting the increased property tax generated in the project area as more business develops and taxable property valuations increase.

The remainder of the cost will be funded on a “pay-as-you-go” basis by the city if the tax-increment money comes in higher than needed to pay off the $20 million in bonds, Elder said.

The city is planning to generate about $40 million more for the project through STAR bonds, a finance mechanism in which the city will borrow against future sales taxes to be generated by businesses in the project area, he said.