Archive for Friday, August 3, 2012

Rec center will add $6M to economy, report says

August 3, 2012


City leaders are now pointing to 6 million new reasons why they’re excited about a proposed northwest Lawrence recreation complex.

A city-hired consulting firm is estimating a new city-owned youth fieldhouse combined with a Kansas University track/field and soccer complex directly will inject about $6.3 million worth of spending into the Lawrence economy each year.

“As we continue to explore additional details about this project, I think we continue to be very encouraged,” said City Manager David Corliss. “The consultants can point to some pretty positive economic activity associated with the facility.”

The facility also is growing larger. The new documents detail the proposed facility has grown from about 172,000 square feet about a week ago to about 181,000 square feet currently.

Corliss said the new space is being devoted to additional indoor turf fields that can accommodate indoor soccer leagues.

“We think there will be quite a bit of demand for that,” Corliss said.

The new report was done by Convention Sports and Leisure International and attempts to estimate the economic impact if the city and KU proceed with plans to build a new sports complex at the northwest corner of Sixth Street and the South Lawrence Trafficway.

The report makes several projections, including:

l More than $6.3 million would be spent each year by visitors of the sports complex, ranging from new hotel bookings to restaurant purchases and gasoline sales. Using a common “economic multiplier,” the consults project the spending from the recreation center will generate another $3 million of indirect spending in the community, bringing the total annual economic impact of the facility to about $9.2 million.

l The report projects the facility will host about 34 tournaments a year, and about 25 ticketed events, such as KU soccer and track and field events.

l Projections call for about 355,000 people a year to use both the fieldhouse and KU’s outdoor facilities. The report estimates about 20 percent of those visitors will need overnight lodging, creating about 9,500 new room nights annually for the city’s hotel industry.

l The report notes the project will not directly pay for itself. The report estimates that direct spending generated by the recreation center will add about $8 million in new hotel guest taxes and sales taxes to the city’s coffers over a 30 year period. As currently proposed, the city will pay $24 million for the facility over a 20 year period.

But Corliss said the city-commissioned study does not attempt to estimate new tax revenue that would be generated by additional retail development that is expected to occur on the property near the recreation complex.

City officials have released a new memo that estimates about 180,000 square feet of retail development could be housed on the approximately 130 acres that are adjacent to the complex.

The city memo envisions a mix of restaurants, convenience stores and at least two larger retailers of about 65,000 square feet apiece.

The new report also begins to shed some light on how much it may cost to operate the new facility. The hired consultants estimate the total complex — both the city and KU portions — would cost about $2.2 million a year to operate . The report projects the facility would generate roughly enough money through fees, concession sales, event advertising and other revenue to cover its costs.

Corliss, however, has developed his own estimate for operating the city-owned fieldhouse and is projecting fewer expenses but also less revenue.

Corliss and his staff estimate the fieldhouse will have about $960,000 in operating expenses. Those estimates include funding for nine full-time employees at the center and about 15 part-time employees. Corliss is estimating the fieldhouse will generate about $615,000 a year in revenue. Corliss is proposing to cover the approximately $350,000 a year shortfall through money that is generated by an already approved sales tax that funds several recreation projects.

City officials, though, said the operational expenses of the project may need more study. Johnson County Parks and Recreation, for instance, spends about $1 million a year to run its New Century Fieldhouse, which is less than half the size of the proposed Lawrence fieldhouse.

“We can’t be 100 percent certain on our operating expenses, but that is one area that can produce some variables, so we want to really look into that,” said City Commissioner Hugh Carter.

The proposed project, though, has good support on the City Commission. Mayor Bob Schumm and City Commissioner Mike Dever have both been deeply involved in negotiations with developers Duane and Steve Schwada, who are proposing to donate the 50 acres of ground the facility would sit upon, and with Lawrence developer Thomas Fritzel, who is working with KU on the outdoor components.

On Friday, Carter said he also is very supportive of the project. He said the new economic estimates are another reason to support the project, but not the main reason the community should get behind the idea.

“The main reason we need to be doing this is to meet the recreation needs of our community,” Carter said. “That’s the main reason we are building this. The tournaments and visitors we can attract will be gravy for the community.”

City commissioners will receive a variety of briefings on the recreation center project at their Aug. 7 meeting, but they are not scheduled to take any formal votes related to zoning or financial commitments towards the project.


David Holroyd 5 years, 5 months ago

Does the 2,2 million a year to operate include the 1,2 million a Year. To Fritzel's who want to "give back" to the community? Who is giving to whom? In my opinion. I am shocked that Duane would partner with this scheme. , I really am. The public is being duped .

polopony 5 years, 5 months ago

I am tired of people trolling on the Fritzels. They do a lot for this community and are very generous with their money.

John Hamm 5 years, 5 months ago

Brahahahahahahaha! Thank you. I needed a good laugh today.

Patricia Davis 5 years, 5 months ago

Only if they get something back for their "generosity".

JackMcKee 5 years, 5 months ago

good it might offset some of the handouts being sprinkled all over downtown.,

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 5 months ago

Why is it OK for Compton to milk the city, but not Fritzel?

Orwell 5 years, 5 months ago

Why is it OK for either of them to milk the city?

irvan moore 5 years, 5 months ago

has mr corliss ever not been encouraged by a project the commissioners want

Richard Heckler 5 years, 5 months ago

Put this project before the taxpayers to secure there is support for using the sales tax dollars for this project.

These 1994 sales tax dollars could be spent in other ways to improve our city. Such as a VoTech campus to further expand on an industry that works aka education. Students have proven their long term annual economic impact on Lawrence,Kansas.

What the city is hoping for is that this project MIGHT attract jobs and home buyers to Lawrence,Kansas. But with increased numbers of houses you have increased demand on services, and historically the funding of revenues generated by single-family housing does not pay for the services, they require from a municipality.

Taxpayers could be providing $30-$40 million tax dollars to make this real estate project profitable. Which begs the question "Is this fiscally responsible use of tax dollars?"

Taxpayers are currently on the hook for the more than $20 million athletic project brought to the school district by the previous school board. That spending has yet to cease. This too was about economic growth. Is it working? Will it work?

Are taxpayers being strong armed?

jafs 5 years, 5 months ago

The projection is that the city will make about $8 million in taxes over 30 years, but spend $24 million over 20 years.


And, pay at least another $350K/yr. to cover operating expenses.

Are they not teaching math any more in school?

John Hamm 5 years, 5 months ago

Yes, somewhat, but Liberals don't understand it....

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 5 months ago

This "rec center" has nothing to do with being liberal. It's all about local movers and shakers (likely Republicans all) shaking down local taxpayers to subsidize their latest vanity projects.

Robert Schehrer 5 years, 5 months ago

The headline says "Rec center will add $6M to the economy. But that money goes to the businesses that will benefit from the expenditures made by the city taxpayers. What is it that Obama said? If you have a successful business you didn't get there on your own. You had help along the way. Governments built you roads, etc.

Well, here is what I see the taxpayers of Lawrence will be putting into this project. The article says that over a 30 year period the city will spend $24 million for the facility, Pluse $10,500,000 in operating costs. (Arrived at by taking the annual shortfall of $350,000 over the estimated revenue generated by the center.) In return, the city taxpayers will receive $8 million in added new hotel guest taxes and sales tax. So, expenditures of $34 million create $8 million new tax dollars. So, why is this a good deal for Lawrence taxpayers?

Richard Heckler 5 years, 5 months ago

Other thinking ...

The City is in the process of developing a sports complex involving approving a shopping center on adjacent land that may not be needed and may not be good for the community. More low wage jobs in addition to the new low wage jobs attached to the hotel project.

Also allowing the KU Athletic Association to build structures on the site that may not be open to the public and for which no lease payment may be made to the City.

Additionally a big public investment in new infrastructure.

Where is the market analysis that indicates the capacity of this complex to attract sufficient external new tournaments to make the taxpayers' investment worthwhile?

Also the City is acting as if this is the only development possibility. It is not. The City could build a sports complex adjacent to Free State High School with many fewer problems. I believe the city owns the land.

Where is the comparative costs-benefit analysis showing that the City is better off with the large sports complex at the SLT rather than a sports complex at the Free State High School?

I say allow KU Athletics Inc, the self family,the Fritzel family finance the entire project if this is such a hot money maker. Leaving the taxpayers without risk.

Use the 1994 sales tax dollars to further expand on the educational industry thus allowing college grads and high school grads to broaden their horizons thus making themselves a more marketable item.

polopony 5 years, 5 months ago

Why would they make a large sports complex at the SLT when both Free State and Lawrence High already have their sports complexes? Free State and Lawrence high have their soccer fields, baseball fields, tennis courts, and football fields already. There is no reason to have a larger sports complex at the SLT.

Liberty275 5 years, 5 months ago

"Additionally a big public investment in new infrastructure. "

Given that Obama says that entrepreneurs "got there" by using "infrastructure", and that we do want people working for a living, then I think your President would approve of the rec center. Who are you to not support Obama? Are you a communist?

rtwngr 5 years, 5 months ago

These words taste nasty coming out of my mouth but I agree with Merrill about putting this on the ballot. I love these "consultants" projections about how much revenue things like this produce. The report is always full of, "if this, then that." There is no crystal ball that tells the future and projections are made on assumptions of future activities. I can't buy that.

For the last time, the high school athletic fields were worth every penny and they're great!

jafs 5 years, 5 months ago

Strange but I also agree with most of that.

Except, of course, for the athletic fields - when I voted for a bond for "capital improvements", that's not what I understood would be done with that money.

My understanding was they'd improve/repair/upgrade buildings, HVAC units, etc.

The fact that they then used several million of that bond for the fields means that I'm much more likely to vote against such bonds in the future.

Richard Heckler 5 years, 5 months ago

Use the 1994 sales tax dollars to further expand on the educational industry thus allowing college grads and high school grads to broaden their horizons thus making themselves a more marketable item.

Bring to Lawrence a nice VoTech Campus to further expand on the industry of higher education. Education made Lawrence what it is. Furthermore jobs for college grads are not in abundance which is to say why provide the tools to learn a skilled trade.

John Hamm 5 years, 5 months ago

Good idea but Lawrence doesn't want Vo-Tech level jobs. Only high dollar research jobs are good enough for Larryville Liberals.

Orwell 5 years, 5 months ago

As usual, in the absence of a factual argument, just make gross mischaracterizations and call people names.

softsun 5 years, 5 months ago

Do Not Let This Be A NO BID project!! You will kill it. KU athletics may have its own rules and with their Empress Bank on the West side be able to insist on KU portion of the construction be done by their "golden child" St. Thomas and his partners and relatives. A glance at the corporate records at the Secretary of State Office what Thomas Fritzell, agent for Fort Development, LLC and roughly the same partners at the Oread Hotel (Olivia Collection) did in Junction City coupled with the BKD Report signals DFC received much of the profit from the scheme and other partners were left out. They are still mad about it. In spite of all, BKD report page 24, Olivia Farms development in Junction City has street names of Penny LN, Wilma Way, Sutter Woods Rd. where until recently much of the property tax have been unpaid and the City has had to take over the operation of sewer lift stations. It stinks. As the BKD report clearly points out is being developed by Fort Development, LLC "based out of Lawrence, Ks. " They are losing tons of money on the project and also the LOCAL Hotel is a financial disaster they all feed every month, where many Fort Development investors are also Oread investors and and condo owners. They are all pretty mad at St. Thomas for huge losses who now seems to have no choice but to try to redeam himself by getting all of them to play again here in Lawrence<:) BTW Construction costs of the rec center are $75.00 per sq foot for building and about 15 for equipment. Everyone says all should be well under $100 per sq ft. They are getting the figures blessed by a City person CW all work is actually being done by PW justifying charging $125.00 sq ft. They are going to get caught sure as the world. KU can chose their builder but that does not stop The City of Lawrence from selecting someone who has actually built one of these projects. We do not want City of Lawrence begging for a bail out from bankruptcy as happened in Junction City The Self's Foundation is a great part of this mix, but the "Lawrence businessman" who was building the home where Coach Self now lives went to jail along with the Mayor. The U. S. District Court of Kansas Criminal Docket for Case #: 5:09-cr-40052-RDR-1 is public record of former Mayor and a former Lawrence businessman who led the U. S. Attorney to the KU Ticket scandal. You do not need a NO BID secret deal. ### You are a great City Commission and capable of doing this right. ####

KU79 5 years, 5 months ago

It's always entertaining to read the comments from the CAVE people. You folks are hilarious.

Jayhawk1958 5 years, 5 months ago

Someone commented eairler that they had heard that only KU could use the track and soccer facilities. So my question is why is KU even involved? I mean KU brings nothing to the table except their own interests. Economic impact? Have you ever seen the crowd for KU women's soccer? A couple hundred maybe.

Weather_Watcher 5 years, 5 months ago

I've read a number of major reports & studies over the years that there is not a single major sports complex baseball/football..etc., in a major city where the taxpayer does not come out on the short end of the equation. Yeah I know Lawrence is a minor city so it for sure will work here.

I can hardly wait to now support an overbuilt library, golf course, bus system along with a host of other feel good projects. Just another retiree thinking it may be time to pull up stakes.

Jayhawk1958 5 years, 5 months ago

“The main reason we need to be doing this is to meet the recreation needs of our community,” Carter said. “That’s the main reason we are building this. The tournaments and visitors we can attract will be gravy for the community.”


Carol Bowen 5 years, 5 months ago

Paying attention to the west side draws lines in the sand and is probably not true. The east side paid for your water, sewer, and other utilities. it also paid for your roads and schools. All while there has been minimal maintenance to the east. As your neighborhood ages, you will experience the same thing.

Now, the sales tax allowed for a recreation center on the west side of town. Voters were thinking that it would be something like Holcom, not the project described in this article.

George Lippencott 5 years, 5 months ago

Here comes Santa Claus, here comes Santa Claus ……Railroading of the program continues. Just who will really benefit financially from this project??

Pete_Schweti 5 years, 5 months ago

Why not just use all the millions and millions of dollars all our other rec centers are raking in to pay for this, then? Oh, wait.

kusp8 5 years, 5 months ago

I too find it dirty to agree with Merrill, but I am.

But...... Has anybody added this in with the improvement of Memorial Stadium? The current holdup is the track. Well they can't get rid of the track until there's another one built. THIS is why KU is involved. Just another thing to throw out there.

Enlightenment 5 years, 5 months ago

So the new rec center would prompt more retail/commercial to be built in a town that is already retail heavy. What about the additional retail/commercial from the proposed North Lawrence Boardwalk development? Instead of building the rec center in west Lawrence, far from the city center, how about building it in North Lawrence so it would compliment the N. Lawrence Boardwalk project.

fearsadness14 5 years, 5 months ago

sure, do you have a free 50 acre plot to donate?

joes_donuts 5 years, 5 months ago

Agree. Wouldn't need 50 acres if they let ku build their own track and soccer stadium. Imagine having the all the tournaments right next to downtown, that would be huge for the businesses downtown.

Could probably buy part of the north Lawrence land for less than the $5 million needed to get utilities to the "donated" land.

flyin_squirrel 5 years, 5 months ago

Would be a natural spot for the gyms and tourneys.

JayhawkFan1985 5 years, 5 months ago

This is a great project, but it is in the worst possible location.

1) It needs to be very close to Free State High School. There is plenty of vacant land in that area. That way there can be a synergy between this project and commercial and residential developments in town. Think of it more as a small scale Kansas speedway in KCK with the legends, casino, NFM, etc. and less as an arrowhead or royals stadium with nothing around it.

2) People should be a able to walk, bike or take transit to it. West of K10 will require everyone to drive to it. that is a very transportation inefficient location. We will regret the west of K10 site for decades to come.

Couldn't indoor soccer be built in north Lawrence behind Johnnys to help downtown like the new sprint center in downtown kcmo? That would add a major Rec use downtown.

JayhawkFan1985 5 years, 5 months ago

I guess my point is why should the public and taxpayers support suburban sprawl? Lawrence is capable of doing better. Look what Manhattan is doing with their downtown. They've built the discovery center, several hotels and many other really cool things downtown.

true_patriot 5 years, 5 months ago

Absurd. There is no way they will be able to afford the annual cost and then the city will be out even more than the massive capital outlay required. Even now this same commission is considering whether to screw the taxpayer on a deal made on funding the downtown parking garage in order to hand out more developer welfare for yet another boondoggle across the street from it - taxes from any development there was supposed to flow into the parking garage funding which has been notoriously more expensive to maintain than the projections and now they are talking about reneging on that deal and using tax revenues to for handouts to those that don't need them.

As soon as the city is saddled with even more debt and unmanageable operating expenses from this new project, the pressure will be on to shut down or further gut other programs and services.

I do think Lawrence needs another athletic complex but when so many go to bed hungry and without adequate dental or medical care, now is not the time to be acting on absurd expense estimates and grandiose projects sold through biased reporters wearing rose-colored glasses. Seems like lately every story Lawhorn does is framed from the local developer perspective.

Jayhawk1958 5 years, 5 months ago

I wouldn't be surprised if they don't allow the T to go out there because of the "image" thing. I am very skeptical that the general public will get to use this as case in point Holcom Rec Center. Its always full of leagues, classes and tournaments, leaving little or no time for free play basketball/volleyball or drop in recreation.

puddleglum 5 years, 5 months ago

it seems clear that the majority of posters do not want this rec center, or at least the community is not in favor of the means by which it is coming together. only the city commission and fritzels seem in favor, with KU's tacit approval. so land is donated, but the city has to buy it back? that is not a donation, that is a loan. sounds like once it is in operation, KU will have large areas restricted to themselves...dont they have plenty of land on their west campus? and finally, the $6 million "boost" to the local economy....whoa! trickle down economics all over again! no one from a track and field tournament is going to be spending any money here, except for gas hotel and maybe mcdonalds. these tourneys bring in BUS loads of kids, not by car. they will be hangin out west of lawrence and any notion of them visiting downtown is a pipedream. imagine a tour bus trying to parallel park on mass! c'mon chad, give ' em both barrels. library, police center, new rec center that citizens can't use but we pay for much is enough? city commission, are you listening?

Jayhawk1958 5 years, 5 months ago

Consultants are paid to lie. Even the spokesperson from Johnson County Parks and Rec said we should be cautious in not oversaturating the area with mega complexes.

John Hamm 5 years, 5 months ago

Let's see "done by Convention Sports and Leisure International..." Now they wouldn't have anything to gain by this construction would they? Nah. "Lies, Damn Lies and Statistics" Attributed to many but actual first usage unknown

Patricia Davis 5 years, 5 months ago

I say put the self-fritzel play palace up for referendum. If the commission refuses, it's time for a big time recall of all city commissioner who voted for this damn thing.

We have serious infrastructure needs in the city and our commission can't throw away money fast enough for the voodoo economics of this white elephant.

If it's such a wondrous thing let those who will reap the profits take the risks. It certainly is not us the average taxpayer.

Jayhawk1958 5 years, 5 months ago

Can the city approve this without a public vote?

blindrabbit 5 years, 5 months ago

jayhawkFan1985: You're right Lawrence Downtown could do much better, but some observations from having a business down there!

Improvements to downtown are hobbled by an ineffective Downtown Lawrence Association, a self-serving Chamber, greedy real estate, and a poorly run City Business Development group!

Many businesses are operated by ex-hippie fat cats that made their move in the 1960-70's (if you get my drift). No incentive to make improvements if your from that background

Likewise, many Eastside and Old West Lawrence residents harken back to the 1960-70's when the "livin was easy". Many see any development downtown to be a further erosion of that!

Others: No public restroom facilities, too many homeless and unpleseant interactions, dirty streets and sidewalks, visitor center too remote, needs to be downtown, very poor Watkins museum, and most importantly, a antiquated form of City Government!

NotMeAgain 5 years, 5 months ago

Sure build the damn thing outskirts of Lawrence. Just so they can use the SLT and turnpike so no one will come into town to spend any Money. Smart move Lawrence. Then the people that live in Lawrence have to pay for the up keep on both projects that will hardly be used by the people that live in Lawrence. See the future with more taxes rising up and up and up and up.

Jean Robart 5 years, 5 months ago

There WOULD be spending in town. The people coming to all the meets and contests at the rec center would have to stay in hotels or motels, and there aren't any very close to the proposed site.

CHEEZIT 5 years, 5 months ago

At least the rec center will be full of people several times a year. I have never seen a T-bus full, EVER, and we will be paying for that the rest of our lives!!!

Deb Engstrom 5 years, 5 months ago

I know this thread is not about the T but have to say that I see lots of firetrucks and ambulances sitting idle, but when we need them, they are there. That's the nature of city services, including public transportation.

jhawkinsf 5 years, 5 months ago

I recently read this, though I cannot remember where, that every new dollar that is spent in a community is spent six times. Example, I go out to dinner while vacationing in Las Vegas. The cook gets some of that money as does the owner, the waitstaff, etc. They then spend that money on other restaurants, clothing, housing, etc. They then spend it at bars, grocery stores, etc. and then the next person in line spends it. Each time it's spent, it's taxed. So whenever these projections come in saying "X" number of dollars, we should remember that it's a lot more than "X" simply being taxed. It's 6X.

As to Merrill's idea of it going to a ballot. That sounds fine, until we look at the most recent election here. Sixteen percent of the voters actually took the time to vote. If a Rec. Center ballot was approved or disapproved with 8% +1, I'm not so sure that the will of the people have spoken with any more authority than allowing our elected officials to decide.

jafs 5 years, 5 months ago

Maybe, although to what extent money circulates is uncertain. When times are good, people spend more, and when they're not as good, they spend less.

Circulation is good, of course, for an economy.

There are also other costs that aren't mentioned here, like the costs of extending, maintaining and repairing infrastructure that will be provided for this project.

jhawkinsf 5 years, 5 months ago

Yes, these are questions. Let me throw out a hypothetical. Suppose with the Rec. Center built and the infrastructure in place, a large sporting goods store such as Dick's decides to move in next door. There's been a great deal of discussion in this forum about how good it would be to have such a store. (I shop at Dick's in Olathe). Of course, a Jamba juice goes in next to that and then more. So the cost of the infrastructure is then spread out amongst several businesses. Heck, the real hope is that several tournaments would come here while some of the teams might stay in that new hotel downtown.

I was listening to NPR on Friday, I believe it was. A company in Lenexa had been lured to North Kansas City and had taken 1,000 jobs with them. They noted that the recent trend in the metro area had been for companies to move the other way, from Missouri to Kansas. Leaders in Missouri was happy to see it going the other way for a change. The point is, and I'll say it again as I know I've said it before, these competitions are happening whether we like it or not. Dick's will come to Lawrence or to some other city. The Lawrence Raiders will play baseball tournaments, whether here or somewhere else. Basketball tournaments will happen, either here or somewhere else. Soccer, volleyball, etc. the same. Their families will travel with them and eat out and stay in hotels and motels. They'll buy T-shirts while there. The only question is will it be in Lawrence, Manhattan, Olathe, Junction City, Emporia, etc? Or worse, might it happen in Columbia, Mo., Lincoln, Ne. or Norman, Ok.?

jafs 5 years, 5 months ago

Let's suppose it doesn't work?

Then, we've paid a great deal, and continue to pay a great deal, in tax dollars.

If we're to compare correctly, we have to compare all of the possible benefits and costs, including infrastructure creation and maintenance, and possibly police/fire/etc.

I note the word "hope" in your post - I'm just not as comfortable as you seem to be spending vast amounts of tax revenue on "hopes".

jhawkinsf 5 years, 5 months ago

But you'll vote for "hope" and change. :-)

Suppose April 15th comes around and I do nothing. Meaning, I don't file my tax returns. Can I then say that there should be no consequences because I didn't do anything? Of course not. Doing nothing also has consequences. Jobs will go to other communities. Spending will go somewhere else. The will be a negative impact on the local economy. There will be a decrease in sales tax revenues into Lawrence and they will be forced to respond. So while you're speculating about what might happen if we do something, I would encourage you to speculate about what would happen if we do nothing.

jafs 5 years, 5 months ago

I vote for reasonable spending of tax revenue on basic needs, like infrastructure, especially when the economy's not doing well.

Lawrence, like other college towns, has a revolving door of students who tend to spend money, making it different from towns without that population.

All of the spending on new infrastructure, tax abatements/incentives, etc. hasn't decreased the costs of living in Lawrence, and very well may have increased them, over the last 15 years or so.

When I first moved here, you could buy a somewhat crummy house in a not great neighborhood for about $35K, now you can hardly find that under $100K.

That's a tripling in price over 15 years, which works out to about 13%/yr increase.

Growth comes with positive and negative aspects - we have more and better restaurants and coffee shops now, but also more crime and congestion. When I first moved here, the community was a bit more unified and coherent, and now it's split into factions.

Government fulfilling it's basic functions of providing and maintaining infrastructure isn't "doing nothing".

Also, I challenged Obama advocates on that phrase while he was campaigning to put some content into them - I know you're just joking, though :-)

jhawkinsf 5 years, 5 months ago

Yes, Lawrence is different than other cities. In fact, every city has some things in common and some things that are unique. Let me give you an example. The city of San Francisco's number one industry is tourism. If someone were to suggest that San Francisco not invest in infrastructure that will cater largely to non residents, then they'd be ignoring their number one source for income. Obviously Lawrence is a university town. Per capita, there are going to be more bars and restaurants. Per capita, there is going to be a lot more activities associated with that age group. Look what happened to Mass. St during March Madness. Did that happen in Eudora or Baldwin? There are lots of KU fans in those towns, yet Lawrence is different. We have the ability to draw academic conferences here that Eudora and Topeka can't. We can draw sporting events here that Eudora and Topeka can't. But Lincoln can. So can Columbia and Manhattan. So can many others.

You mentioned you first moved here 15 years ago. I moved here almost four decades ago, already an older, non-traditional student. And I moved away and then back. Yes, much has changed. Some for the better, some not. But I'm not certain I agree with you when you describe basic functions as being the role of government. If that were true, much that the city provides would go by the wayside. Or maybe over the years we've expanded the meaning of "basic". Parks are necessary in my opinion, but does that include a skateboard park? i would say yes. Indoor and outdoor pools? I say yes. Are they basic needs, like police and fire? No. But I'm still in favor of them. As I am in favor of providing a positive business climate that will produce jobs. That, too, is a role of government, in my opinion. And make no mistake, I see basketball tournaments, volleyball tournaments, etc. as a business. If not for the kids playing, then at least for the business activity they generate. And from that, the city benefits.

No one can guarantee positive results. But if independent analysts project that the outcome will be good for the city, I say why not. The alternative, doing nothing, will produce some really nice basketball tournaments in Olathe. (Wasn't the Jayhawk Invitational held there this year?)

jafs 5 years, 5 months ago

The definition of "basic needs" is of course open to discussion and debate.

If we have plenty of tax revenue, and people have decent jobs, etc. then it may make sense to spend more on things like parks. But, when times are tough, and tax revenue is down, etc. it may make sense to cut back a bit.

We have a basic disagreement about "positive business environment" being a fundamental role of government. I think it should collect taxes, and provide infrastructure and services, and let businesses work on their own, generally speaking.

The business environment is up to businesses and customers to create.

Again, providing basic infrastructure and services isn't "doing nothing".

Well, for one thing, the "independent" analysis seems to have left out the costs to the city of extending, maintaining, and replacing infrastructure for this project, as well as possible additional costs of fire/police/etc.

jhawkinsf 5 years, 5 months ago

Does government let businesses work on their own? There are a multitude of regulations that hinder business. I'm not against them. But they act as a tax. I mentioned the ADA in another thread. Complying with that can get quite expensive. Not that I'm against it, but it does work against business. I once own a business where I needed a permit to operate and a permit to congregate. Both were state regulations. Enlighten me as to the difference between the two. Then the city decided to require the same city permits. Now enlighten me as to the difference between the four. Let's face it. That's nothing but a tax. So in many ways, government hinders business. And let's be clear, I'm 100% not saying they shouldn't. What I am saying is that if there are opportunities to assist businesses, I see no reason why that can't also be done. It's sort of like trying to balance the scales. If I'm reading your thoughts correctly and that you think government ought to be neutral in it's dealings with business, then they are not there now, nor have they been for a long time. Go back to the robber baron days and you will see a pendulum that had swung too far one way. Well that pendulum has swung too far the other way.

jafs 5 years, 5 months ago

Well, we've been over this a bit before.

Things like the ADA exist to protect rights of disabled folks - the intention is not to "hinder business".

I can't really comment on your permit situation since I don't know where you were, or why the various entities required permits, etc.

Also, I said "generally speaking" - there are certainly times when the government should act in ways that affect businesses, in my view, like when people buy buildings and let them sit vacant for a decade. Or when restaurants are found to have critical violations of food safety requirements, etc.

So, protecting the public, and their rights, along with simply providing infrastructure and services, are also reasonable functions of government, in my view.

If you really think that businesses don't have a lot of power and influence over government right now, I think you're very much mistaken. With the CU decision, and the massive amounts of money pouring into politics, combined with the revolving door of government/private industry, businesses have too much power and influence for my taste.

We have our modern "robber barons" - just look at Goldman Sachs, et. al.

jhawkinsf 5 years, 5 months ago

Something just occurred to me, Jafs when you mentioned Goldman Sachs. When I speak of "business", I usually have an image in my mind of a restaurant on Mass. St., where the owners work 10-12 hrs a day, 365 days per year. But it goes up to some guy I can name, someone who I might see at a local restaurant, someone who might attend a concert at the Lied Center. In other words, a big fish in the small pond known as Lawrence. I know it includes things like Haliburton and big oil, but when I make suggestions regarding a rec. center or a hotel downtown, I'm not thinking multinational corporations. I'm thinking the dozen or two jobs that might get created, not the 80,000 jobs that Koch industries has worldwide.

Maybe we'd find more room for agreement if, when discussing local issues that would be limited to Lawrence or Douglas County, we leave out discussion of Goldman Sachs. You mentioned that big business has substantial political influence. But I wonder if the owner of Milton's, or Harbour Lights, or even Johnny's now that they've expanded, are they to be included in that broad definition of businesses that have substantial political influence? I think not. Of course, the hotel owner and Masonic Temple owners have more influence here, but probably not much beyond Lawrence. And more that some of those other businesses I mentioned.

My main point being that lumping all businesses together tends to distort things. Don't you think?

jafs 5 years, 5 months ago


But, the "big fish" in Lawrence aren't the restaurant owners who work 10-12 hours/day, 365 days a year.

Doug Compton probably qualifies as a big fish here, and he seems to have plenty of influence, managing to obtain lots of nice assistance from the city commission, don't you think?

You made some sweeping statements about the pendulum of government and business, and I responded in kind.

Both on a local and national level, I find that moneyed interests and business have too much influence for my taste.


jhawkinsf 5 years, 5 months ago

You know, Jafs, I have some mixed feelings about the corrupting influences of big money. Intuitively, I know it's not a good thing when it comes to elections. But I also know that I've been able to resist the temptation that the money brings. I still vote my conscience. And as I speak to you, you also seem to be able to resist. In fact, I mentioned something similar the other day to Bozo, who did not respond, but you did. Why are we able to resist the corrupting influence, but so many others are not. I have one vote, you do, Compton does. Isn't it just possible that my intuition is off a bit and people just vote the way they do because it's what they believe and the money has little if anything to do with the outcome? Or are we special in some way? Are we smarter? Let's just say I'm not entirely convinced, one way or the other.

Now when we're not talking about elections, when we're talking about lobbying our elected officials, then I think the money really does make a big difference. Now, Compton might have only one vote, you and I one each. But when it comes to local elections, so few vote that there is no balance. Normally, elected officials would have to balance the influence of the deep pockets with the greater numbers of voters. But where are the voters? But I'm not certain that the appropriate response to the voters choosing not to exercise their rights and "responsibilities" to vote by taking away someone else's rights of free speech. (note my emphasis on responsibility. Yes, voters are neglecting their responsibility by not voting). So we limit someone's free speech because 85% of the voters stay home? I'm not real comfortable with that either.

Anyway, I feel strongly one way every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. I go the other way Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. Sundays I'm on the fence.

James Minor 5 years, 5 months ago

Let's think this out, this is Kansas, pigs fly, we snap our heels together and $6M dollars profit just comes out of the sky!!! I would believe a $3M profit if an indoor track was built instead of an outdoor one for high school track events. Kansas high schools don't have an indoor high school track season. Bringing in high schools around the state and maybe the surrounding states would bring revenue to the area. Oh well, let me get the ole 12 gauge out, at least i'll have ribs tonight!!!!

Carol Bowen 5 years, 5 months ago

If this venture is all that profitable, then why do the developers need the city. Let them speculate on their own.

Biker 5 years, 5 months ago

Shouldn't the commissioners focus on their core mission of providing infrastructure and services (police, fire, roads) to the community? Quite honestly, I am not interested in what they have to say about anything else until our communities needs are completely addressed. Shouldn't we demand more out of leaders than this?

Richard Heckler 5 years, 5 months ago

"Can the city approve this without a public vote?" Yes they can....

However there is nothing stopping them from putting this matter on the upcoming ballot which I believe is the ethical approach.

Politicians believe because they have the authority to spend tax dollars anyway they desire no questions should be asked and voters should simply trust their motivations. I know very few taxpayers who accept this position.

This 1994 sales tax is not dedicated to the park department in spite of the fact a large chunk has been funding park department projects. This money could be spent to rehab our elementary schools and remove the portable class rooms that has been talked about for years thereby avoiding a tax increase or a bond issue.

This money could be spent to rehab the library thereby eliminating a tax increase as I introduced to the city commission perhaps a year ago and the LJW more or less supported this proposal in an editorial. In fact 5%-10% of this sales tax could be dedicated to the library for operations still leaving 90% for other uses that benefit the all taxpayers.

Richard Heckler 5 years, 5 months ago

It is time in my estimation to revisit this 1994 sales tax and ask voters how elected officials should be spending this money. For any group of politicians to believe that voters blindly trust politicians with their tax dollars is not real and hasn't been for at least 50 years.

Bring the voting taxpayers back into the process after all we are the largest group of stakeholders in Lawrence,Kansas.

This money could build this community a nice Vo-Tech center. College grads could improve their opportunities for employment. High school grads could improve their opportunities for employment. Laid off employees could improve their opportunities for employment. Anyone seeking to broaden their horizons could improve their opportunities.

Providing a nice Vo-Tech would be expanding the higher education industry. Investing further into the industry of higher education would be a solid investment. Students are good for economic growth and they love Lawrence,Kansas.

Committing tax dollars to the "field house project" is likely on the upcoming city commission agenda which I believe is rushing it considering the amount of concern being voiced from just about every corner in Lawrence,Kansas.

Sharon Nottingham 5 years, 5 months ago

Quit shoving this propaganda down our throats. This town cannot sustain this complex. 6 million you say? What a load of smelly socks.

Cant_have_it_both_ways 5 years, 5 months ago

I would much rather have this rec center than all that other crap like the Community Theatre, Train Depot, Library, Lawrence Arts Center, Hendersons paycheck drunk shelter. At least this project has the potential to put some money into the town rather than just take from it.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 5 months ago

Translation-- "it furthers the type of class warfare I prefer"

blindrabbit 5 years, 5 months ago

Cant: Perhaps a little cultural depravity in the genes! Too much sports emphasis in this community anyway, but no complaints!

Pastor_Bedtime 5 years, 5 months ago

Closing neighborhood schools like Wakarusa and building mega-plexes to drive to, rather than local, neighborhood-specific projects. Nice.

Richard Heckler 5 years, 5 months ago

Do the pros outweigh the cons of the new proposed sports complex? The answer appears to be no. (Taxpayers are on the hook for the more than $20 million USD 497 sports project as we speak).

beezee 5 years, 5 months ago

A lot of the reality involved here can be found at which apparently nobody in Larry-Land has bothered to peruse. Maybe someone send the link to Lawhorn and to county and city "leaders"? I've done the latter, but voices add up.

Carol Bowen 5 years, 5 months ago

The city commission meets Tuesday evening. It's time to place our bets. If the commission decides to discuss this venture tomorrow, will the commission; A) move forward with this plan, B) back out of the plan, or C) go back to the original plan which was to build a recreation center on the west side?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 5 months ago

Despite some indications that these commissioners might be otherwise early on, they've proven to be full-out cheerleaders and rubberstamps for well-connected movers and shakers.

My bet is that they'll move forward with this plan, and likely even expand it, especially in ways that most benefit their wealthy patrons behind it.

Ill_Have_Another 5 years, 5 months ago

$24 million for 20 years plus $2.2 million per year. That equates to 68,000 very nice portable basketball goals. Whats wrong with playing in the driveway?

jafs 5 years, 5 months ago

It's been pretty well established that the candidate who spends the most money almost always wins, so the obvious power of spending money on ads is clear to me.

Advertising is extraordinarily effective at selling products, which is why advertising costs so much, and why businesses are willing to spend so much. If you think about it, they have to sell enough products at prices high enough to pay for all of their costs, including advertising, and still make a profit on top of that.

So, I'd say that the percentage of folks who aren't affected by advertising is pretty low - apparently, there are 3 of us on this forum, which is good, but doesn't represent the majority.

And, of course, the way that money corrupts means that Compton has more than his one vote - those with money influence in a variety of ways, including the "extortive" ways I've mentioned - if you don't give us a tax abatement, we'll just take our money somewhere else.

I'm horrified at turnouts, as you are - 12% is ridiculously low.

By the way, on another story about the rec center, we now have about $6.5 million in infrastructure costs for the city to add to the mix, resulting in about $37.5 million in tax dollars spent over 20 years or so, in order to reap $3.5-$8.6 million in tax revenue.

Why should we spend 10x as much to build this thing as we'll be getting over the next 20 years?

jhawkinsf 5 years, 5 months ago

It's not that I disagree with you about this whole issue of "he who spends the most, wins". What troubles me is the implication of that. It suggests things that I'd rather not believe. It suggests things like the electorate is so gullible, so uninformed, that I have trouble being troubled should that group not vote at all. Maybe reaching out to them and encouraging them to vote is the wrong thing to do, they being so uninformed. This is a whole area that I'm very uncomfortable going. The implications are bad and the solutions worse. Yet that's exactly what my intuition is telling me.

As I said above, maybe I ought to put my intuitions aside and accept that the advertising, the big bucks don't have the great influencing effect, even though studies suggest that they do. Basically, whichever direction this takes, I'm left with a troubling reality.

But back to the rec. center. Again, those numbers don't trouble me. As I've said before, when a dollar is spent, it's spent six times. And if a sporting goods store can be lured here, a couple of restaurants, a few more businesses, places for those out of towners to spend their money when they come to Lawrence for the volleyball tournament, basketball tournament, etc., and all that business activity produces jobs and produces sales tax revenue, then we see beyond just how much a rec. center costs and how much it produces.

Suppose I gave you this hypothetical. Look at every construction worker that will work on that rec. center. Every single carpenter, every plumber, etc. Now look at every single person that will work inside that rec. center. And add in all the people that might get hired at new businesses along with the construction of those new buildings. A hundred or more workers potentially earning millions of dollars. Now suppose I told you every single one of those people was currently on unemployment. Suppose I said they were receiving public benefits like health care, because of the status of being unemployed. Also food stamps. Suppose I told you every single one of them was underwater with their mortgages because they were unemployed. That's a large obligation, a large cost to government. And a continuing obligation should they remain unemployed. That would be the cost of doing nothing. Of course, I know that's an absurd hypothetical. Not all of those people are unemployed and on the public dole. Not all of them are underwater on their mortgages. But some of them are. i can't give you an exact number. But my intuition tells me they are out there.

jafs 5 years, 5 months ago

It is a troubling reality, either way.

The solution, from my perspective, is better education, so that we get more informed, stronger voters - then it would be good for more people to vote.

It's not worth going over and over the same arguments again - I think that you, as well as many who support projects like these, tend to overestimate the benefits and underestimate the costs.

jhawkinsf 5 years, 5 months ago

O.K., let me give you one more example and then I'll drop the subject. Look at the "T". It loses money. I have no problem with that at all, not every service provided by government is supposed to make money or break even. But suppose the opposition to the "T" had their way and service was discontinued. I suspect there are some that would be unable to get to and from their jobs. So how do we calculate the value of that into the service provided by the "T". We can't just look at how much money it costs to run the bus and then subtract the amount they take in in fares. It's more complicated that that. That't it. The End. Bye. See you on another thread. :-)

jafs 5 years, 5 months ago

The "T" is a public service, it's not supposed to make money.

Of course it's more complicated - in fact, one of the city commissioners responded to my e-mail with "it's hard to enumerate benefits" of these sorts of projects. I say if it's hard to do that, we should be cautious about them.

A neighborhood rec center would be a public service, and I wouldn't argue against it based on the fact that it doesn't "make money". But this behemoth is being sold as economic development, with all sorts of projections about how much money it will bring in.

I say the burden is on those who claim that to prove it, or at least demonstrate enough credible evidence of it to justify the massive tax costs.

So far, nobody's done that.

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