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Lawrence and Douglas County

Lawrence and Douglas county

Details of proposed west Lawrence recreation center discussed

April 2, 2012

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As he prepares to begin serving a one-year term as Lawrence mayor, Bob Schumm provided more details about possible public-private partnership to build a youth fieldhouse/recreation center at corner of Sixth Street and the South Lawrence Trafficway. Here’s a look at some details currently being discussed:

• About $13 million is the current estimate for how much money the city will put into this project, Schumm said. How much money developers, which include Steve and Duane Schwada and members of the Gene Fritzel Construction company, will put into the project is less clear. The $13 million is about how much the city thinks it can pay without raising taxes. City leaders are hoping to use money that will become available after the debt for several sales tax-financed projects, such as the indoor pool and the community health building, are retired in the near future.

• A development group, probably led by Thomas Fritzel, would own the fieldhouse/recreation center, under one proposal currently being considered. The private group would take care of the maintenance, security, utilities and other such functions that come with owning a building. The city would pay a lease payment, which is included in the $13 million, to the private group, which would entitle the city to use the facility for parks and recreation classes, leagues and other functions. City employees of the Parks and Recreation Department likely would staff the facility.

• After 20 years of lease payments, the city would own the building, Schumm said. The city, however, would own the ground that the building sits on even during the first 20 years of the lease.

• Schumm hopes to have the building up and going by early 2013.

• Commissioners are being told that many of these youth sporting tournaments bring 2.5 visitors for every one event participant. Many of the tournaments have 50 to 60 teams.

“With those numbers it becomes pretty easy to see how it can be a huge economic development driver for the community,” Schumm said.

Comments

repaste 2 years, 8 months ago

So the land is "donated" (property taxes?), the developer gets some infrastructure for free, some zoning concessions, a tax break?,

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 2 years, 8 months ago

Still pretty short on details. If the city has $13 million available to invest in this project, that ought to build one heck of a facility. Why do they need any help from private developers, and more importantly, what do the developers expect in return?

Keith 2 years, 8 months ago

"City leaders are hoping to use money that will become available after the debt for several sales tax-financed projects, such as the indoor pool and the community health building, are retired in the near future."

If these tax financed projects were sold to the voters for those specific purposes, shouldn't the tax be lowered now that the projects are paid off? What is their authority to maintain the sales tax level and shift the revenue to this new project?

deec 2 years, 8 months ago

Any profits made from the tourneys-who gets those?

jafs 2 years, 8 months ago

And again.

I'd sure like some answers to these excellent questions.

Chad?

deec 2 years, 8 months ago

These are all good, but rhetorical questions. I think we all know the answers. Of course the developer gets tax breaks, free infrastructure, et. al. They don't need the developer money,but that is how they can pretend this project is for the public good rather than corporate welfare. Profits will go to the developer, losses belong to the city. They likely have no moral authority to continue the tax, but the lawyers will find some randomly connected loophole and exploit it. There will be a big P.R. campaign how its for the children, even though no one will have access to use the facility during the tournaments. But, hey, the rich and their servants in government will get richer on the public dime, and that's all that matters.

Richard Heckler 2 years, 8 months ago

• Commissioners are being told that many of these youth sporting tournaments bring 2.5 visitors for every one event participant. Many of the tournaments have 50 to 60 teams.

“With those numbers it becomes pretty easy to see how it can be a huge economic development driver for the community,” Schumm said."

Topeka and Kansas City/JoCO metro know all of the above and have been drawing these tournaments to their communities for years. What tournaments will be coming to Lawrence does anyone know?

We're going to build this facility far away from Downtown so exactly how does this become a huge economic driver? Where is the hard evidence?

Richard Heckler 2 years, 8 months ago

Is this a triple net lease?

How much are taxpayers paying to lease the area each year?

How are taxpayers saving money?

How can city commissioners make any plans without knowing how much money will come from the Steve and Duane Schwada/Thomas Fritzel group.

Are taxpayers looking at a $45-$50 million addition to PLAY? By the time PLAY is fully developed will this be about a $100 million tax dollar development?

USD 497 is spending $20 million tax dollars on their donation to PLAY in which the spending has yet to cease = can we say tax dollar money hole?

Richard Heckler 2 years, 8 months ago

PLAY

Should the city spend $20 million or more on the PLAY project? http://www2.ljworld.com/polls/2007/may/should_city_spend_20_million_or_more_play_project/

================================================================ Chat about Lawrence recreation facilities with Bonnie Lowe

November 28, 2006 Bonnie Lowe, a Lawrence bank president and former mayor, is involved in the project to bring a youth sports complex to town.

Moderator:

Hello. I am Mark Fagan, business editor, and I will be moderating today's chat with Bonnie Lowe. She has arrived here at The News Center and we'll start in a few minutes.

Moderator:

Thanks for joining us today, Bonnie. Let's start by having you explain a little bit about what PLAY is, what you're hoping it will accomplish and how you got involved. Then we'll move into specific questions.

Bonnie Lowe:

Thanks Mark, I'm glad to be here. Partners for Lawrence Athletics and Youth (PLAY) was officially formed earlier this year.

Discussions about this concept began last fall with the word that Sport 2 Sport would be converted to a tennis facility.

We felt there was a need in our community for an indoor facility then began exploring other facility needs in order to meet other needs for our youth.

Funds were requested from the city, school district, county and Chamber of Commerce to jointly pay for a needs assessment/feasibility study.

This study has the following objectives: ¢ Critically evaluate the present state of athletic facilities/programs in Lawrence ¢ Investigate the need/support for a first-class sports/recreation complex ¢ Assist in building mutually beneficial partnerships among key stakeholders ¢ Determine the financial cost and benefits of a sports complex

Moderator:

Now we'll move into submitted questions.

merrill: How do you know this will be a financial success? Which side of town do you envision the complex might be located? How will it be paid for?

http://www2.ljworld.com/chats/2006/nov/28/bonnie_lowe/

Richard Heckler 2 years, 8 months ago

opinion: Hi Bonnie, thank you for your teams effort on this topic. I believe I read in one of the articles that a project like PLAY is suggesting does not pay for itself. I believe that may be true based on gate receipts, tournament and user fees, but what have studies shown about the added revenues the city could expect with visitor dollars coming to town? I know I have spent a penny or two following my kid's sports teams in other cities that have invested in similar projects.

Bonnie Lowe: I appreciate your comments. Another ancillary benefit of having a first-class sports complex would be an enhancement in the area of economic development. With Lawrence as a destination tournament site, families spend their money in our restaurants, hotels, downtown shops, etc. Recruitment of these year-round tournaments is another key component for PLAY.

Moderator: Is there more to it than just retail?

Bonnie Lowe: A common question from prospective employers and employees relate to the availability of sports facilities. Having amenities such as a sports complex would compliment existing jewels in our community and potentially attract new businesses to our town.

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