Archive for Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Fritzel entity, not KU, will own stadiums and facilities at proposed Rock Chalk sports complex

December 12, 2012


The millions of dollars worth of stadiums and facilities at a proposed Kansas University sports complex in northwest Lawrence won’t be owned by KU.

The leader of the Kansas University Endowment Association confirmed Wednesday that a private company headed by Lawrence businessman Thomas Fritzel will own the facilities and lease them to Kansas University Athletics for a term that is not yet being disclosed.

“It is certainly long enough, though, that it is satisfactory for all parties to make this work,” said Dale Seuferling, president of the Kansas University Endowment Association.

The proposed arrangement, however, is drawing concerns from at least one major landowner in the area who questions whether Fritzel’s ownership will cause the approximately 90-acre complex to become a major events venue drawing everything from music concerts to festivals.

“Our concerns are noise, traffic, lighting — consumption of alcohol is always an issue with these type of cases,” said Richard Hird, a Lawrence attorney who is representing Jack Graham, who owns land directly east of the proposed site near Sixth Street and the South Lawrence Trafficway.

Seuferling confirmed the arrangement does open the door to Fritzel’s company hosting and generating revenue from nonathletic events at the facility, although that currently isn’t envisioned to be a major activity at the complex

Seuferling said a key reason the deal has been structured in this manner is due to financing issues. Seuferling confirmed that neither KU Endowment nor Kansas Athletics will finance the construction of the facilities, which will include a 10,000-seat track and field stadium, soccer field, softball stadium and other amenities.

Instead, Fritzel’s Bliss Sports L.C. will finance the construction of the facilities and lease them to KU Athletics through a long-term agreement. Seuferling declined to provide details of the terms of the agreement because he said the lease hadn’t yet been signed.

Although KU Endowment won’t be paying for any of the actual facilities at the site, it will own the real estate that the facilities will sit upon. KU Endowment and Bliss Sports will have a long-term ground lease. The terms of that lease also aren’t yet being released.

But Seuferling confirmed the lease agreements will create the possibility of Fritzel’s company hosting and generating revenue from nonathletic events at the complex. Seuferling, though, said that is not expected to be a major function of the complex, which he said is being driven by the need for improved athletic facilities to serve Kansas University.

Seuferling said it is tough to speculate on what type of nonathletic events might be appropriate at the site.

“I would hope the greater community will be so pleased with the improvements once they are in place that it will generate some ideas for other public events that might be held out there,” Seuferling said.

A city staff report listed several examples of nonathletic events that could be allowed at a complex that will have the city’s general institution zoning category. They included music concerts, festivals, fairs, BBQ cook-offs, farmers’ markets, racing and vehicle exhibitions and other similar events.

The lease agreements, Seuferling said, don’t create a list of uses that would be considered appropriate or inappropriate for the complex. Instead, the agreements would require that KU Endowment, Bliss Sports and Kansas Athletics all agree on a proposed event. It also is proposed that any nonathletic event at the complex would be required to file for a special event permit from Lawrence City Hall. Athletic events — everything from KU contests to large events like the Special Olympics, the Kansas high school track and field championships or other sporting competitions the city hopes to attract — won’t be required to get a special permit.

Hird is urging the city to place restrictions on what type of nonathletic events can be held at the complex now rather than dealing with each on a case-by-case basis through a special events permit. The Lawrence-Douglas County Planning Commission, however, declined to recommend placing such restrictions on the property.

“The Planning Commission voted to kick the can down the road,” said Hird, who is a member of the Planning Commission but has recused himself from this issue.

City commissioners haven’t yet taken up the issue.

Lawrence Mayor Bob Schumm said he hasn’t yet seen any of the agreements between Bliss Sports and the KU entities. He said he will want to see details of the deal before the city makes a major investment in the complex.

The city is proceeding with plans to build a $25 million recreation center as part of the Rock Chalk Park plan. The mega recreation center, however, will be owned outright by the city. Approximately 20 acres of land also will be owned by the city and won’t be subject to a lease with Fritzel. As proposed, though, Fritzel would be the general contractor for the recreation center, which technically would be built by KU Endowment and then sold to the city.

“We’re partners in this overall plan, though, and I want to know what we’re getting into,” Schumm said. “I don’t want it to be so open ended that it ties our hands on being able to operate the facility.”

Fritzel declined to comment for this article.


KiferGhost 5 years, 1 month ago

The games being played to work around the rules is extraordinary. If there is this much wheeling dealing going on where we can see it what surprises will we be able to expect when Fritzel pulls more of his tricks?

Can a petition be created to make the city put this on hold? Can anything be done in this town to stop the developers from robbing the taxpayers? Guess we also see how low the standards are the universities who are more concerned about sports than academics.

KU_cynic 5 years, 1 month ago

Fritzel gets to earn income from events and activities for which KUAC would draw scrutiny (hosting high school events that might draw KU recruiting targets, events with alcohol, events that might be considered taxable for profit activities in general, etc.). Fritzel will also get the tax benefits of depreciation.

It all sounds like a standard way to structure something like this -- except for the taxpayer subsidies. Getting goodies from the city commission is like taking candy from a baby, unfortunately.

SinoHawk 5 years, 1 month ago

I think that we have a winner. Great deal for KUAC, great deal for Fritzel, ??? for the taxpayer.

mdlund0 5 years, 1 month ago

Oh, I don't think the taxpayer gets '???', it's pretty obvious that the taxpayer gets 'XXX'. It may seem like semantics, but there's a very real difference.

waitjustaminute 5 years, 1 month ago

Okay all you OZ citizens, pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.

riverdrifter 5 years, 1 month ago

I don't have a dog in this fight but this just doesn't pass any sniff test. "There be a taint on the wind."

patkindle 5 years, 1 month ago

it dont make no nevermind who owns the facitliy, after all........................ it is only all about the poor kiddies,and it is only a few pennies per day

PEACELOVEANDLAWRENCE 5 years, 1 month ago

Shame on all the people that have anything bad to say about the Fritzels! They are a wonderful family that have done many good things for the community! Mr. and Mrs. Fritzel have raised great children that would make any parent proud! They are all down to earth and let money have nothing to do with the way they treat people that may not have as much as they do. I am pleased that the Fritzels will have something to do with this project! I know that it will be done with great taste and have the community in mind when they complete this!

WilburM 5 years, 1 month ago

Jeesh. I'm getting old. Is this comment brilliantly ironic or total BS. I have no clue.

PEACELOVEANDLAWRENCE 5 years, 1 month ago

What comment are you referring too? Def not mine because I speak from experience with the family and the nice things they have done to help people. Including my family at which they had nothing to gain from it except the feeling you get in your heart when you do something kind for someone with nothing in return expected.

spiderd 5 years, 1 month ago

Thank you for your comment Mrs. Fritzel.

PEACELOVEANDLAWRENCE 5 years, 1 month ago

Sorry, wrong person! My last name is not Fritzel nor am I of any relation to the family. If any of them had anything to say they would not have to hide behind a made up post. They have nothing to be ashamed of. So you should not assume anything ( remember the saying ). You're 100% wrong on this one.

PEACELOVEANDLAWRENCE 5 years, 1 month ago

No, wrong again. Lying is such a harsh word to use when you don't know me at all. I speak the truth! Is it easier to believe that someone has to lie that has something good to say about someone. If I had agreed with the people on here saying negative things about good people then .... that would have been easier to believe. I am not related at all nor have I or do I work for the Fritzels. I used to rent from them a few years ago. I know Mr and Mrs Fritzel, their children and their children. I can not say one bad thing about any of them! So maybe you should STOP LYING.

CHEEZIT 5 years, 1 month ago

Yes 'cause that's what it has to be! He/She has to be related to Thomas! It couldn't possibly be someone who has genuine feelings about him and please don't post a stupid response like "Thank you Mr. Frtizel!"

spiderd 5 years, 1 month ago

Actually, I just thought it would be a funny thing to say. Are you people reading these comments for something other than entertainment?

KiferGhost 5 years, 1 month ago

A lot of mobsters are really nice people to those they know as well. What does that have to do with fleecing the sheep?

PEACELOVEANDLAWRENCE 5 years, 1 month ago

What, now the Fritzels are Mobsters???? You people have really lost it. And as for me, well I know them and how they have treated me and my family. I also know the good they have done for the Lawrence community. So I will not argue or waste my time with a bunch of lynch mob type negative minded people! Good bye. If any one wants proof who I am just send me a private message and Ill be sure to give you a call or you can call me. I see there was no takers before. When you get proved wrong it kinda feels like you stuck your foot in your mouth and have nothing better to come back with.... Your accusations were wrong and now you don't really want to make your selves look like the asses you are.

KiferGhost 5 years, 1 month ago

You appear to ignoring the obvious fleecing of the taxpayers in this town by spawn of Gene. Who cares what you think of them personally, it is unimportant.

KiferGhost 5 years, 1 month ago

Funny how your comments sound so much like the fb postings of one of the female Fritzels once married to commissioner who pushed this project.

jack22 5 years, 1 month ago

Peace, don't listen to all the haters, they're just jealous they're not making millions of dollars at the expense of us taxpayers. I think Fritzel is a great guy, he takes me golfing with him nearly every day and he even lets me carry his clubs.

SinoHawk 5 years, 1 month ago

There are a couple of Fritzel families in Lawrence. Those that I have met are fantastic folks, so I have a slightly more difficult time understanding the rancor than most. When the taxpayers start subsidizing development, though, it raises a few red flags for me.

Nevertheless, I can't imagine a more difficult community than Lawrence when deciding to develop anything.

lawrencereporter 5 years, 1 month ago

Interesting, are any of Thomas Fritzel's partners associated with KU Athletics or KU Endowment. Do any of his partners or friends sit on boards of these organizations. KU Athletics board of directors would have voted to allow Sheahon Zenger to lease facilities from Fritzel, right? Who are these board members?

KiferGhost 5 years, 1 month ago

Well we are aware that Southerland was in partnership with Fritzel on a number of deals in town including the Oread. Who knows how many other ties there are-

RDE87 5 years, 1 month ago

Done many good things for the community? In your opinion, was destroying the varsity house a good thing for the community??

Bob Forer 5 years, 1 month ago

The piece meal method by which the specifics of this project have been revealed to the public renders it as dirty as a dustbin lid and as smelly as a bad fart. Should this project continue to go forward then the groups and individuals who remain on board will be forever inscribed in my book as dirty rotten scoundrels.

rtwngr 5 years, 1 month ago

Kind of reminds me of the President's AHA.

jhawkinsf 5 years, 1 month ago

I'm generally in favor of privately funded projects that bring jobs to the community. When taxpayer money is involved, I become more skeptical, but try to have an open mind. But my mind is rapidly closing with this project. I'm not saying we should run away from this. But I am saying we should walk away from it quickly. If in a year or so it's still being discussed, then we can make a more informed decision.

lawrencereporter 5 years, 1 month ago

Timing is everything. KU, KU Athletics and KU Endowment all run cover for Fritzel until barely one day after the City approves the zoning Fritzel needed, not KU. KU should be ashamed, the City should immediately seek to correct this deliberate act of deception by KU-Fritzel and revoke any and all approvals for this project. Fritzel can start over without his Trojan Horse. A private development would never have been giving such royal treatment. But wait, the commissioners are just as guilty. They knew all along.

Taxpayers are being forced to wrap the city's gift to Thomas Fritzel with money per Bob Schumm's instructions......don't forget the bow. Merry Christmas.

homergoodtimes 5 years, 1 month ago

There's no way Dale would have fessed up unless they are confident the deal is done and the elected officials will continue to rubber stamp this project. This is a sign of how corrupt and desperate our city goverment is.

Steve Jacob 5 years, 1 month ago

"Do you know the difference between a hustler and a good con-man? A hustler has to get out of town as quick as he can, but a good con-man - he doesn't have to leave until he wants to. "

Diggstown 1992

irvan moore 5 years, 1 month ago

oew was right on target when he asks who owns bliss sports, this commission needs to do the ethical thing and wait for the next commission to be seated to make a decision (like that's going to happen)

KiferGhost 5 years, 1 month ago

Things have been going downhill with the Fritzels in this town ever since they were given permission to cut down the old tree where they built that ridiculous thing down by the old Borders. It has been so successful a KU student group rents the main space on the street.

Keith 5 years, 1 month ago

I think you're bashing the wrong developer, wasn't Hobbs Taylor a Bo Harris thing?

KiferGhost 5 years, 1 month ago

My mistake about the developer but does seem like the time all this nonsense started. Should have known though, Harris didn't need a special TIF to build the same thing Compton is building.

Mike Myers 5 years, 1 month ago

Commissioners... this thing smells like fish. Please pull the plug before a giant mistake is made. This is the riverfront mall of 2012.

irvan moore 5 years, 1 month ago

remember the fast track zoning? i'm pretty sure the commissioners would have been aware of the ownership from the start

kernal 5 years, 1 month ago

I find it just odd that after all this time and discussion about this project, it finally comes out Fritzel really is behind it. If everything is on the up and up, there shouldn't have been all this subterfuge; it causes people to be wary and suspicious. If he'd just been upfront from the get go there likely wouldn't be all this diatribe.

When one considers all this along with the situation of the frat house on Indiana, is he a man of his word?

KiferGhost 5 years, 1 month ago

Or the cell phone towers that were only a possibility in the footnotes provided to our idiot commissioners. If he pulled that fiasco off who knows what else we have to look forward to. Has anyone explained what Bliss Sports is other than a front for the KUAC so they can play the games we heard about during the ticket scandel with those AAU basketball games and all the shady stuff. I'm surprised after being busted by the feds once they KUAC is playing games like this.

MattressMan 5 years, 1 month ago

Exactly right there toe! the guy is in business to make money but all these people complaining would still complain no matter who the developer is, after all to a lot of people on this board anyone that has a profitable development business is scum and cant be trusted.

Currahee 5 years, 1 month ago

Take your money and run as fast as you can. In two years I will be definitely moving away.

KiferGhost 5 years, 1 month ago

Me too and right now cutting back as muchon spending in town as possible to avoid contributing to these idiots. This is one person leaving when retired, not sure how they think they have any appeal to a retiree let alone anyone else not part of the chamber crowd.

Currahee 5 years, 1 month ago

Unfortunately Lawrence will always rake in the $$$ thanks to KU. The only one "Rock Chalking" is Fritzel I'm sure. Way to give into a multi million dollar subsidy. I hope no one ever comes here to use this complex.

lawrencereporter 5 years, 1 month ago

Thomas Fritzel's greed, KU Athletics questionable leadership and KU Endowment out right duping the citizens of Lawrence might not derail the part KU wants to lease from Fritzel but they have destroyed any chances of the community having a regional recreation center. How do they go about building the trust needed for the public to allow the City to deal with any of them on a 25 million dollar building especially if Fritzel is involved. Talk about selfishness. The elected officials and City staff are to blame, I think we have learned to expect this type of behavior from KU management. When is enough, enough. No tax dollars for incentives or infrastructure should be spent on this project. It can't be said it's for the University of Kansas, they have already made their deal with Fritzel.

Now its public, Fritzel will be KU's landlord, no gifts from the heart, no philanthropy, no angel investors, its just another for-profit business deal.

thelonious 5 years, 1 month ago

This whole thing, simply, does not pass the smell test. What should be happening: 1) KUAC builds the facilities they need (with or without help from KU Endowment) on some of that West Campus land between Iowa and Kasold and 15th Street and 23rd Street. That's what that land is for; 2) City of Lawrence builds their white elephant Rec Center somwehere (out NW is fine, I guess), pays for it and owns it, controls what it is used for, etc.; 3) Fritzel can bid, in an open bid process, to build either or both the KU facilites and the City facilites. If they win, they get to be general contractor. Period. The lack of transparency and open bidding on this is most troubling for a project this size involving public entities like KU and the City of Lawrence.

So this is what should be happening. What IS happening instead is tremendously complex, hidden, and quite frankly bogus. What needs to happen is some investigative journalism. Dolph, any interest? If not, somebody get the KC Star on it. The approach is simple - follow the money.

Currahee 5 years, 1 month ago

No bidding, city giving money for almost half the project, not enough parking to generate false sense of demand, and KU not owning it but Fritzel. Unfortunately nothing we say here will mean anything.

msezdsit 5 years, 1 month ago

built them a hotel build them a rock venue

walrus 5 years, 1 month ago

Whatever happened to the concept of using city tax dollars for selected projects that would benefit those that pay the taxes instead of raining those dollars down on a single individual. Wonder how the citizens of Fritzelville, formerly known as Lawrence, would vote if this were a ballot question?

Katie Kutilek 5 years, 1 month ago

If Jack Graham wants the peace and quiet of country living, why did he plow down the last stand of virgin prairie in the county? Oh that's right, so that it could be commercially developed.

Sue McDaniel 5 years, 1 month ago

All I want is a OUTDOOR neighborhood pool WITH parking on the west side of town..........but that would benefit the town and not be of much use to the ATHLETIC/PROFIT area.

kernal 5 years, 1 month ago

That would benefit YOUR neighborhood......not sure why, or how, you think it would benefit the TOWN.

kuguardgrl13 5 years, 1 month ago

What I find strange is that the city, KU Endowment, and Fritzel have all commented about this. But the one entity we haven't really heard from is KU Athletics. They might have mentioned once about how they need better facilities for the womens teams, and there was a survey sent out to fans on what improvements they would like to see at Memorial Stadium. But that doesn't tell us anything about why they're willing to have facilities so far from campus or why existing facilities can't be improved. In fact, there has been nothing about this in the UDK at all. Have the alumni who donated the money to KUEA approved this?

Catalano 5 years, 1 month ago

Wasn't there only one alumnus contribution...from Fritzel's father-in-law, Mr. Stewart? Not sure how many commas and zeroes it contained, but apparently enough.

lawrencereporter 5 years, 1 month ago

Would the donors approve of the additional wear and tear caused by uses other then the primary use the facilities were designed to handle, sports verse concerts, festivals, monster truck races, etc... The money for the lease payments will come from current and future donations made to KU Athletics and KU Endowment. The day to day operational cost of these facilities will be paid for by KU Athletics with money that was donated. Think about it.

lawrencereporter 5 years, 1 month ago

“We’re partners in this overall plan, though, and I want to know what we’re getting into,” Schumm said. “I don’t want it to be so open ended that it ties our hands on being able to operate the facility.”

Partners? Schumm is leading the City, if the City is in a partnership with Thomas Fritzel how can Schumm say he doesn't know whats in those agreements.

KiferGhost 5 years, 1 month ago

Same way the rocket scientists commissioners didn't know Fritzel could but those God awful cell towers on his bar/brothel. Have to believe it is more intentional ignorance but maybe not.

jack22 5 years, 1 month ago

You've got to hand it Fritzel, he's come up with a great get rich scheme that would make even Doug Compton or Bernie Madoff jealous that they didn't think of it first.

RDE87 5 years, 1 month ago

Haha I bet Compton is just fuming right now.

minimadoff 5 years, 1 month ago

There is no way to explain away the fact that KU mislead the citizens of Lawrence until Fritzel had what he needed from city hall. Its apparent that KU Athletics management and morals has gotten worse not better with Lew's departure.

KiferGhost 5 years, 1 month ago

The corrupting influence of big money in sports.

KiferGhost 5 years, 1 month ago

Did Hilary's veggieburger enterprise receive any chamber derived benefits or is she out there doing it on her own? Maybe she could teach our worthy developers a few things about how to run a profitable business enterprise so they don't have to keep conning the city.

KiferGhost 5 years, 1 month ago

I"m not a tax lawyer, nor do I play one on tv but if Fritzel is going to own this thing so KU is removed so they can play their little AAU nonsense then why is the money going through endowment at all? Oh, wait, could it be because a money given to endowment can be a tax write off? What other reason is the endowment involved with this anyway? Doesn't Fritzel's father in law trust him with the money that he just can't give it to him directly and cook up some kind of deal with the pretend non profit sports "company"?

Richard Heckler 5 years, 1 month ago

Brownback is out to cut some sales taxes yet local government is pleading against the idea. Yet the local government is proceeding knowing full well sales tax revenue will be less coming from the state. Is is smart economics?

What taxes and/or user fees will be increased to cover the losses?

Kansas has the 9th highest sales tax in the nation.

Lawrence Kansas sales tax rate is 8.85%. Including the secret sales taxes of another 2% that goes to property owners and/or builders which bring sales tax on consumers to 10.85%. Do you know how much YOU pay when shopping? City Commissioners refused to initiate the "consumer friendly" concept of mandating taxpayers be advised before entering an establishment.

Is this business friendly? Is this consumer friendly?

The point is this field house funding is dependent on sales tax revenue.

Richard Heckler 5 years, 1 month ago

Reckless growth has been rightly blamed for many things: destroying green space, increasing air and water pollution, fracturing our neighborhoods and forcing us to drive gridlocked roads for every chore.

But there is one consequence that usually goes unmentioned – reckless real estate grwoh is draining our pocketbooks and raising our taxes.

Reckless growth is the result of over two decades of subsidies paid for by the local taxpayer. These range from the obvious to the obscure and include big projects-like the billions we spend on new roads as well as smaller ones-like the tax-breaks that encourage developers to build projects that will not bring a profit without corporate welfare.

We've subsidized wreckanomics at such a basic level for so long, that many people believe this status quo is actually acceptable. This is false-what we think of as a level playing field is tilted steeply in favor of reckless corporate welfare development.

Richard Heckler 5 years, 1 month ago

Kansas has the 9th highest sales tax in the nation which makes Lawrence a stiff sales tax as well. Add in the "secret sales taxes" around town likely puts Lawrence at about 10.85%.

Business unfriendly or what?

The fed should raise rates on developers to stifle reckless building habits which keep property values stagnate or decreasing. Flooding the real estate markets is dumb economics and produces economic displacement NOT economic growth.

Every community would be better off employing people to rehab sidewalks,streets and building inter urban walking/bike trails that get our children to school, people to work and play safely. This could keep locals employed for about 3 years at least.

Let's tighten up the real estate markets in an effort to restore value. Let's improve the existing markets with projects such that was suggested above thus adding value.

If sales tax were reduced it would increase the taxes on just about all other tax supported services = still a major increase in the local cost of living. Lawrence,Kansas is the most expensive community in the state with the lowest in wages = Lawrence,Kansas is in a pickle.

All tax dollar subsidies no matter how they are called described are not affordable to local residents .

Richard Heckler 5 years, 1 month ago

"Seuferling said it is tough to speculate on what type of nonathletic events might be appropriate at the site."

Think rock concerts = will pay for the project = why should taxpayers be paying for a lease.

Fritzel should be paying city hall and taxpayers as managers that schedule events NOT the other way around.

USASTEELE 5 years, 1 month ago

And the rich get richer!!!!!!!! Bad, Bad deal for Lawrence all the way around!!! How many of the Lawrence residents that have been here since the "good ole days" will use such a Facility? NONE! They (older retired generation) are paying for it just like all of us and I keep helping and watching them move to smaller somewhat less expensive places . Thanks to the Fritzels, Comptons, RD Johnson's and KU nobody can afford to retire in Lawrence with this kind of BS happening. All these great idea's get stuffed down our throats and then the residents pay for it! Maybe the Fritzels, Comptons, RD Johnson's and KU can bus our kids to school since they do SO MUCH for the community! I hope the Fritzels, Comptons, RD Johnson's and KU realize student busses have taken a backseat to afford these BS ideals and other BS the commissioners keep approving. You know, the good schools that get torn down or closed to build a new one in a newer neighborhood out west. Go to this blog and step back for a minute....."The Lawrence We Miss, The Lawrence We Remember". Things here used to be good, just not now!

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