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The Wichita City Council has given unanimous approval to a plan outlining the development and costs for a sports complex with a hotel and retail shops at K-96 and Greenwich Road.
The project would create the Good Sports Fieldhouse, a multi-sport athletic facility that would host regional and national youth sports events. The plan also calls for a 150-room hotel and a 70,000 square-foot retail center. The project also includes improvements for the interchange at K-96 and Greenwich Road.
Attorney Korb Maxwell said the purpose is to create a unique destination in eastern Kansas that will do "great good for the community" in funding infrastructure and helping increase tourism in the state. A report for the city council said the Fieldhouse would attract an estimated 300,000 visitors a year, and the entire development would have close to 2 million visitors.
The city will apply to the state for STAR bonds, which would be supported by sales tax revenues generated by the businesses in the K-96 and Greenwich area. The STAR bonds would provide around $31 million toward the total cost of $124 million for the project. The state commerce secretary will have to approve the STAR bonds.
Michael Shatz, spokesman for the group Occupy Wichita, questioned the use of tax dollars for a project that includes retail and service sector jobs that keep people below the poverty line. He also asked how the project would benefit low-income children.
Council member Janet Miller said the project is bringing increased sales and property tax revenue, and those tax dollars are re-invested in the community. She said it's also important for the city to have a range of jobs from lower-skilled to higher-skilled.
Mayor Carl Brewer said the Fieldhouse would be hosting activities for local schools, so children across the community will have chance to use the facility.