WICHITA, Kan - Wichita mayor Jeff Longwell says Lawrence-Dumont stadium has served the community well for 84 years, but it has seen better days. He said architects and engineers have looked at the stadium and determined that it cannot be salvaged.
Longwell talked about plans for a new stadium and unveiled some early designs as he announced Thursday that an affiliated baseball team, the Triple-A New Orleans Baby Cakes, has filed an application to relocate to Wichita.
The mayor said the city would be looking at bids soon for the demolition of Lawrence-Dumont Stadium, and that work should be done this fall.
Longwell said the plan for the new stadium is to have 7,000 fixed seats and a total seating capacity that would go up to 11,000. He said the city is not building just a baseball stadium, "we're hoping to build a gathering place for the community, and this gathering place is going to include a wide variety of amenities along the river corridor." He said the new facility would include a museum and a home for the National Baseball Congress. He said the intention is to build a baseball village next to the stadium.
The mayor estimated the cost of the stadium at $60 million to $73 million. He said it would be funded through STAR bonds, which are supported by sales tax revenues from the development district surrounding the stadium. In addition, a tax increment financing district will use new property tax revenues from the development area to help with project costs, and private developers will be funding individual projects.
Longwell said the city is starting to see the benefits of having development along the river corridor and the stadium project "will help us embrace the river even more," and make it a true gathering place for Wichita and the surrounding region.