Archive for Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Proposed rec center offers ‘huge’ opportunities

Early plans include ice rink, track and field stadium

May 1, 2012


More details are emerging about a proposed recreation facility in northwest Lawrence, with new plans calling for everything from an indoor ice rink to a 15,000-seat track and field stadium.

Lawrence Mayor Bob Schumm on Tuesday provided details of new concept plans that are being proposed by private developers seeking to partner with the city on a major recreation facility at the northwest corner of Sixth Street and the South Lawrence Trafficway.

“The economic development opportunities for this project are really huge,” Schumm told a crowd of about 40 who gathered Tuesday for the Downtown Lawrence Inc. annual meeting.

The building itself may be huge, too. Schumm said the latest plans, which he stressed are likely still to change, call for 300,000 square feet of indoor space plus several outdoor venues that could be used to accommodate Kansas University.

“What’s being discussed now is a village type of concept for sports,” Schumm said. “KU is very excited about the possibilities.”

Currently the concept plans call for a 15,000-seat outdoor track and field stadium, which could be used to host the Kansas Relays and other events. The project also includes a collegiate-level soccer field.

On the indoor facility, Schumm said it is still envisioned to have at least eight full-length basketball courts that could be used for volleyball and other indoor sports. But the latest version also includes an indoor ice rink that could be used for hockey and other skating.

But Schumm said the plans are still subject to change, and another source said the ice rink was the most speculative part of the current plans.

The concept plans already have changed several times. Previously, an indoor events arena was in a concept plan, but that component was not included in the latest plans presented to Schumm on Monday.

Schumm said he hopes to have firm plans presented to the City Commission within the next 60 to 90 days. That would be about the same time the commission would consider a rezoning request for the property.

Thus far, members of the private development group, which includes local businessmen Thomas Fritzel, Steve Schwada, Duane Schwada and executives of the Gene Fritzel Construction Co., have not publicly presented plans or detailed any proposed cost-sharing arrangements.

But Schumm said he still envisions the city will be able to cover its share of the project by using money from the previously approved countywide 1 percent sales tax.

Voters approved that sales tax in part to fund recreation projects. The city is paying off several bonds, which will free up about $13 million to $15 million worth of new funding for the city.


Robert Rauktis 6 years ago

"by private developers seeking to partner with the city " - If you shake hands with them, count your fingers later.

blondejuan 6 years ago

Developers donate land and look like heroes. Then the city and county pay for all the utilities to the property. Which means the utilities are brought to all the other properties they own for free. It's genius! Also, why do we need this large facility? Is there really a need? KU relays should be at KU. If KU wants a bigger venue then build it on all of the KU land between Iowa st and Kasold Dr. Aren't the relays a big success downtown? Is there a feasibility study showing we need this?

Richard Heckler 6 years ago

Who is funding the maintenance and staffing of this project?

How much will this cost the taxpayers annually?

What they keep leaving out of this conversation is that this is more of PLAY brought forth by banker and Chamber leader Bonnie Lowe:

Bonnie Lowe -

Should a Westside rec center be approved?

Should the city spend $20 million or more on the PLAY project?( The school district has spent $20 million on PLAY - has the spending stopped?)

What Kind of Rec Center do you want for Lawrence?


What city government is using as the carrot is claiming this will bring tons of new revenue to Lawrence as Lawrence competes with KCMO metro and Topeka for the same dollars.

Where is the hard evidence?

There is a lot of speculation behind the scenes that will bring back the" boom town real estate scam" that produced inflation beyond reality and also shut down the USA and world economy. Costing the USA some 11 million jobs that have yet to be replaced.

Nation wide property values are still on the decline with no new nation wide major job creator on the table...... thank the GOP.

Flap Doodle 6 years ago

Oh, hey, more links to outdated LJW polls! Just what I was hoping to see on this thread (not).

Ian Legler 6 years ago

I don't imagine that the KC Metro and Topeka are competing for the same dollars ...

If the project is going to be as vast as the proposal is contending you have to imagine the amount of interest different athletics organizations (private teams, AAU basketball, etc.) will want to utilize the indoor structure, and the relays being hosted there would bring a lot of revenue and attention to the development (Olympic caliber athletes competing regularly at the Relays) ... Not too mention the concessions sales, and yes you could still keep the downtown events of the Relays intact.

Any one who wants to use the space will have to pay to use it ... That $$$ goes toward the upkeep of the site ... I am sure you would see a lot more commerce popping up there as well, more restaurants, etc...

There may be some negatives but I feel the positives grossly outweigh them ...

kwilkins74 6 years ago

Huge opportunities for who? The over privilaged of west Lawrence?

jhawkinsf 6 years ago

I'll just throw out a couple of estimates here, but if this project is built on the far N.W. part of town and I live in the S.W. part of town, it might take me say, 6 minutes to drive there. And if I lived say at 9th. & Connecticut, it might take me 8 minutes to drive there. (just guessing). Is that really that big a deal? Will it really be something reserved for the west side of town, excluding east Lawrence?

mrkuwick 6 years ago

If you live in the N.W. it's probably more like 15-20 minutes. If you live in say Prairie Park it's more like 20-25 minutes. Maybe even longer in heavy traffic.

chootspa 6 years ago

I just Googled, and Google Maps thinks it's about 20 minutes from Prairie Park and about 15 minutes from 9th and Connecticut. That's assuming no traffic on the SLT or 6th street to get there.

Just for fun, it's also 52 minutes from KC (Prairie Village) and 27 minutes from Topeka.

chootspa 6 years ago

Try 15- 20 minutes from 9th and Connecticut.

chootspa 6 years ago

Does it have an ice rink?

I'm not opposed to the building or the location per se. But when people whine about construction over in East Topeka, they do so for good reason. The area has become a collection of big boxes that won't attract shoppers from KC and is geographically inconvenient even for people who live in Lawrence. We should be focusing on our downtown instead of trying to build ugly houses and chain stores.

Scott Morgan 6 years ago

How about an indoor ice racing track?

Steve Jacob 6 years ago

I still want to see hard numbers on what the city has to pay out, because don't forget the $2M road just to get to this center. Still shocked nobody has raised a petition drive to bring ending the 1 cent sales tax to a vote, with everything the voters approved back in the day almost paid for.

GardenMomma 6 years ago

Why such a large outdoor facility? What I'd like to see is more indoor facilities-basketball, volleyball, soccer, etc. A roller skating rink would be such fun! I'd love to see the Sears building turned into a roller skating rink with maybe a Putt-Putt on the side. Or go carts. Something fun to do that isn't a drive to Topeka or KC or a movie.

MarcoPogo 6 years ago

Though they survived for many years, Lawrence has chewed up and spit out the past putt-putts and skating rinks. It's kind of sad that the younger generation will never get to experience the pure terror of asking someone to "couple skate".

jhawkinsf 6 years ago

It's assumed that certain services government provides will be done at a financial loss. We build parks for kids knowing full well the kids will never spend a penny to go down the slide. We provide public transportation knowing the amount riders pay will never fully cover the costs. Not every government program needs to make money, break even or sometimes, it doesn't even need to come close to breaking even. It's what we pay taxes for. The bottom line is do we the taxpayers of Lawrence want our tax dollars to fund this project? Is this a project we deem desirable? All that other stuff is a smokescreen.

irnmadn88 6 years ago

Big picture.

The area of W 6th St/ US-40 and the SLT/K-10 is going to be developed with retail, lodging, dining, and now potentially a sports/recreation facility. All very close to I-70. A nice little bundle of things that enable each other. If you have ever travelled to youth sports tournaments, having things in close proximity is more than just a convenience. It is an attraction.

Jayhawk1958 6 years ago

And why is KU not chipping in on this? "...have not publicly presented plans or detailed any proposed cost-sharing arrangements." There's a red flag right there. Developers should pay 100% of the cost.

Jayhawk1958 6 years ago

Not neccessarily. For the type of project this is, I think they would provide scholarships. Didn't Morningstar at Sport-to-Sport do that?

Scott Patterson 6 years ago

If the project includes an ice rink, it would take me 45 minutes to get there from my home in KC. I'd gladly make that drive once a week to get ice time. Many, many hockey players and parents of hockey players in the KC area would, too. There is an incredible demand for more ice time in KC.

Joe Adams 6 years ago

+1 - Heck, I currently drive to Independence from Lawrence for ice time.

paperjam 6 years ago

Completely agree, I know a lot of parents who have been struggling to get ice time for their kids teams in KC. This would be a great opportunity for local kids to experience new sports, and would have the added benefit of bringing in a lot of revenue dollars from out of town.

John Pearson 6 years ago

Why do we need another track that seats 15000 people for two days a year? The rest of the time, it will simply rust. And we need an ice rink why? the one they built in Wichita has failed to garner enough use to be financially feasible.

COjayrocks 6 years ago

Isn't it obvious? Clearly, KU's main interest in the area has to do with the track complex. KU AD is currently in the capital campaign process for a new Olympic Village (have been for about 2 years now) to upgrade softball, baseball, track, and soccer facilities. The said Village includes a new competition track facility, but only planned to hold around 5,000 people in its current state. However, the money required to build a brand new track facility that could house the Kansas Relays would cost the University another $10M on top of the $25M that was in the original proposal because we would have to go from an occupancy of 5,000 to at least 15,000.

This proposed facility on 6th and SLT allows for KU to build a practice only track facility in place of the original event track with far fewer seating requirements than 5,000 and then KU can use the above 15,000 person track as their competition track. It's a win win for the city and the University. It sounds like they may be discussing a scenario like this for soccer as well.

I, personally, am hoping this all works out.

Jayhawk1958 6 years ago

Seriously, how many people play hockey in this part of the country?

Jayhawk1958 6 years ago

I thought the Stanley Cup was a yacht race.

Richard Heckler 6 years ago

Get your tax dollar wallets out this is not a Free Lunch for taxpayers. I say Lawrence is spending big bucks to bring the new housing industry back to life..... you know the industry that destroyed the USA economy and the world economy for that matter.

How exactly is private investment paying for this very expensive project? How much will taxpayers be expected to pay over the 20-30 years? Where are the numbers?

==================== We have created in the United States, largely in the last thirty years, a whole series of programs — a few of them explicit, many of them deeply hidden — that take money from the pockets of the poor and the middle class and upper middle class and funnel it to the wealthiest people in America. And among the biggest recipients of these subsidies are the wealthiest family in America, the Waltons; George Steinbrenner; Donald Trump; a whole host of healthcare billionaires. And these are policies that either have not been reported on or the news reporting on them generally has not informed people about what they really are.

JUAN GONZALEZ: Well, I was struck — you have numerous chapters in the book on the various aspects of this transfer, but I was especially struck by your material on the New York Yankees and Steinbrenner and Joyce Hogi, who you mention in the book, who I know well, and this whole issue of sports teams across America and how the public is subsidizing them. Could you elaborate on that part of it?

DAVID CAY JOHNSTON: Sure. George Steinbrenner is getting over $600 million for the new Yankee Stadium in New York. The New York Mets are getting over $600 million. In fact, the City of New York gave them money to lobby against the taxpayers to get more money. Rudy Giuliani gave $50 million to the two teams for that purpose.

The new owners of the Washington Nationals baseball team in Washington, D.C., paid $450 million for the team. But, in fact, they got the team for free, because the subsidy they’re getting for the new stadium is worth $611 million. We actually paid these people to buy the team.

Now, in this country right now, we are spending $2 billion a year subsidizing the big four sports: baseball, basketball, football and hockey. It accounts for all of the profits of that industry and more. Now, there may be individual teams that make money, but the industry as a whole is not profitable. And that’s astonishing because the big four leagues are exempt from the laws of competition. By the way, irony is not dead, because here are people who are in the business of competition on the field who are exempted by law from the rules of economic competition.

The same principle applies on this project. What exactly are the "huge opportuniities"? Says who? For who?

Flap Doodle 6 years ago

Wow! A 4 year-old link that you've posted dozens, if not hundreds, of times on this award-winning website! You're just coasting now, bub.

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