Editor’s Note: This is the fifth in a series of articles highlighting the top 10 local news stories of 2018.
After more than three years of planning, Garden City’s proposed Sports of the World complex and expansive multi-use facility meant to open up the area to more tourism opportunities made significant steps forward in the past year.
In January, the Kansas Department of Commerce approved a Sales Tax and Revenue, or STAR, bond for the $30 million project, setting in motion a series of processes that will brought it closer to fruition.
The approval and additional progress of the project is The Telegram’s No. 6 news story of 2018.
The approval came over three years after the Garden City Commission approved an ordinance to create the bond district in December 2014, originally meant for a major league soccer training and development facility. The project ultimately evolved into Sports of the World.
Following the approval in January, Finney County Economic Development Corp. President and CEO Lona DuVall, who has been involved with the project for years, told The Telegram it was “an exciting time.”
“I think it answers to a lot of the quality of life requests that we’ve had in the community,” DuVall said. “The hope and ability now to bring in folks from the outside area to come in for sporting events and to visit our community, it’s really exciting for us. We’re very pleased — very pleased that the tool was available to us and that the project worked out.”
GC Investments, Inc., was designated the project’s master developer through a memorandum of understanding in July, which also split the project into two phases involving separate bonds. The first phase will use $24.6 million of $25.4 million in KDOC funding. The city has yet to negotiate plans for the second phase with KDOC.
Phase one of the complex will include two full-size or six partial indoor soccer fields, four multi-use basketball courts, an indoor trampoline park, two indoor baseball cages, four outdoor volleyball, pickle ball and cornhole courts and tournament or conference amenities, including indoor seating for the soccer and basketball courts, breakout conference rooms, locker rooms and event rooms.
The first phase is expected to cost about $37 million.
A restaurant also is planned but is not included in the bond funding. Other elements will be included in the second phase of the project, such as an ice rink, but much is still in flux.
In November, the Garden City Commission approved the development agreement for the project following negotiations with GC Investments, expanding and amending the July memorandum.
According to the agreement, the city will facilitate alternative payment methods, including Industrial Revenue Bonds and a Community Improvement District, to GC Investments, and credit the facility $300,000 over three years for utilities.
The agreement, City Attorney Randy Grisell told the commission in November, will protect the city throughout upcoming processes.
“There is no obligation in this agreement of being backed by the full faith and credit of the city, which means that the city has no financial liability in this project … The city, in my opinion, is protected in this development agreement so that no creditors will be coming to the city for any payment of any debts associated with this project,” Grisell told the commission.
Moving forward, City Manager Matt Allen said in November that the city will begin placing and selling bonds to investors, like banks or other financial institutions. He said at the time that he expected the project to move forward at a “faster pace.”
Contact Amber Friend at firstname.lastname@example.org.