An entity controlled by Thomas Fritzel will be the exclusive provider of all concessions on the Kansas University portions of the proposed Rock Chalk Park project, according to documents released Tuesday.
The agreements — which involve Fritzel’s Bliss Sports, Kansas University Endowment’s RCP LLC and Kansas Athletics — also give Bliss rights to charge for parking at the park and free facility rental on the KU portion of the complex. They also provide more details about how much KU may have to pay Bliss to lease the facilities over the next 50 years.
Here’s a look at points from the four agreements, which were released by Fritzel after Mayor Bob Schumm said he wanted to see the documents before the city moved forward on a proposed development agreement for the park:
• A signed operating agreement between KU Athletics and Bliss Sports states Bliss “shall have the exclusive right to control and manage concessions associated with any use of the stadiums, including athletics-sponsored events, developer-sponsored events and third-party sponsored events.”
Any event held on the KU portion of Rock Chalk Park — this agreement doesn’t cover the city’s recreation center — will have its concession needs served by Bliss Sports. The agreement goes on to say that “any net revenues” generated from concession sales will be deposited into a special escrow-like account called a “maintenance fund.” That fund can be used by KU Athletics to make repairs at Rock Chalk Park over the years.
It is not clear, however, how, if at all, other Fritzel entities will be allowed to participate in the concessions business as suppliers or otherwise and whether the profits from those entities also would be deposited into the maintenance fund.
The details related to the concessions business were in contrast to comments Fritzel made in an interview with the Journal-World on Jan. 18.
“It will be run just like Allen Fieldhouse, 100 percent like Allen Fieldhouse,” Fritzel said when describing whether his entities would be in a position to make any money off the Rock Chalk Park. “The important thing is Kansas Athletics controls everything.”
Fritzel on Tuesday evening declined to comment about the agreements.
• Bliss, in addition to KU Athletics, will have the right to charge “reasonable parking fees” for any event on the KU portion of the project. Both Bliss and KU Athletics must agree to the parking rates, but the agreement states: “It is the intent of the parties that as a general rule, at a minimum, parking fees will be charged for conferencewide collegiate athletic events; statewide, regional, national and worldwide sporting events; and third-party sponsored events.”
City Manager David Corliss said the city will want to create a separate agreement to make it clear that the City Commission would have to approve any parking fees on a per-event basis. It has been proposed that the city would contribute money to help build the parking lots that would serve both the city and KU portions of the project. Corliss said that means the city will want to be involved in setting parking policy for the development.
• Bliss would have the authority to use any of the stadiums and other KU-related facilities rent-free. KU Athletics would have limited ability to deny Bliss use of the facilities. Bliss could host private athletic events at the park without city approval. Any nonathletic events hosted at the park would require a special use permit from the city.
• As previously reported, KU Athletics will pay $1.3 million a year for 30 years to Bliss Sports to cover Bliss’ costs to finance the project. Also as previously reported, Bliss will maintain ownership of the facilities for 50 years.
What has not been previously disclosed is that the lease also calls for KU to pay lease payments in years 31 through 50 as well. Fritzel made no mention of that provision when interviewed by the Journal-World in January.
The rate of the lease for years 31-50 will be the “fair market rental value” of the property as determined by Bliss and agreed to by Kansas Athletics.