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City approves part of Stadium Financial Plan

*Photo by Brittany Schowalter/Wichita Business Journal

This article appears online at Wichita Business Journal

 A new downtown ballpark came a step closer to reality Tuesday when the Wichita City Council approved $29.5 million in funding for the project.

The money, including $20 million in bonds retired by tax increment financing, and $9.5 million for parking, would be targeted for a new Lawrence-Dumont Stadium on the west side of the Arkansas River, the initial focal point of the city’s plans to accelerate development along the river downtown.

Also included would be a greenway walking and bike path on the north side of Douglas in Delano.

“Baseball has been a part of the fabric of Wichita for 85 years,” said city council member Pete Meitzner, who was in Washington, D.C., Tuesday for the vote but supports the project. “The city needs to provide a destination stadium that can be part of that very fabric, for professional ballplayers and for the National Baseball Congress.”

Plans for the ballpark are based around a destination concept, where fans can walk around the circumference of the park. Also included are a home for Wichita’s National Baseball Congress and a bid for the College Baseball Hall of Fame.

City officials have told the WBJ they are confident that an affiliated baseball team can become the lead tenant for the new ballpark, with a Triple-A club easier to land than a Double-A team, where major league clubs develop most of their young talent.

Wichita is the largest city in the United States without affiliated baseball, Mayor Jeff Longwell told the WBJ this year.

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