By SCOTT AUST
Ice, ice, baby.
And soccer. And rugby.
Heck, even trampolines!
These are a few of the concepts pitched for the proposed “Sports of the World” complex included in the Garden City Star Bond project.
The Sports of the World complex, a roughly $31 million project, envisions a major multi-sport athletic complex, including indoor and outdoor facilities and stadium that can accommodate ice skating, hockey, soccer, rugby and more.
The proposed location is on approximately 32 acres east of Old Chicago and the Parrot Cove Water Park.
When completed, the complex, and the nearby retail development, will draw a broad segment of adult, youth and family visitors from the surrounding multi-state area, creating significant economic benefits.
The proposed facilities include:
* Garden City Ice Arena: A two ice rink facility and the centerpiece of the Sports of the World Complex, that will be the only year-round ice option between Wichita and the Colorado front range.
* Garden City World Field: A championship-level soccer and rugby stadium that will serve as the focal point for soccer in western Kansas.
* Garden City Fieldhouse and Jump Park: A two-court indoor youth soccer facility which will be designed to be convertible to host full gymnastic competitions. The Jump Park would be the only indoor trampoline park between Wichita and the Colorado Front Range.
* World Food Plaza: An indoor/outdoor plaza that can host events and festivals as well as provide concessions during minor league hockey and soccer games.
* Configurable fields: An area that can be used for various practices and game locations during tournaments.
* Headwater Plaza: A gateway leisure space for people to gather, featuring a small lake and stream that could be connected to additional future development.
What’s a STAR Bond?
A STAR Bond is a tax increment financing program that allows city governments to issue special revenue bonds that are repaid by local sales and use taxes within a designated district. The district establishes a baseline of tax receipts. As retail business increases within the district, the higher sales tax revenue above the baseline is called an increment and is used to finance the STAR Bond.
In 2014, the City of Garden City established a STAR Bond district covering about 312 acres of land, including the Schulman Crossing retail development, which includes 515,000 square feet of national and regional retailers, four restaurants, a 96 room hotel and an indoor water park. Since establishing the district, retail sales within the district have grown from about $39.5 million in 2014 to $72.1 million in 2016.
Lona DuVall, president of Finney County Economic Development Corp., stressed that the STAR Bond is not an additional sales tax.
“This is one of the few tools available to communities to build quality of life enhancements, and the great thing is there’s no additional tax to go shop in the STAR Bond district. It’s simply an opportunity to recapture dollars that would otherwise be going to the state,” she said.
The planning commission reviewed the Sports of the World project plan and approved the proposed land use on Aug. 17. The city commission will review the project plan at its Sept. 5 meeting and may schedule the required public hearing concerning the proposal for the Oct. 17 meeting. If approved in October, the proposal would move on to the Kansas Department of Commerce for its blessing.
Feasibility study performed
As required by state law, a feasibility study was performed by a neutral consulting firm, Canyon Research Southwest, Inc., that includes retail and athletic facilities market studies, market impact study, revenue and cost analysis.
DuVall said the consultant’s study clearly showed there is an additional need for configurable fields which can be utilized for all field sports and a need for an ice facility.
“The study said we have existing demand for 13 fields and 2.4 ice rinks so we feel confident that this project will help to meet some of those needs within the community and the region,” she said.
According to the study, the project could generate about $82 million in annual sales and a total economic output of $115 million, along with creating nearly 1,100 direct and indirect jobs supporting an estimated annual payroll of $32.3 million.
The study projects that the project, coupled with adjacent retail attractions at Schulman Crossing, Heritage Inn and Suites and Parrot Cove, will draw nearly 1.2 million visitors per year, with roughly 35 percent coming from more than 100 miles away from Garden City.
Projects financed through STAR Bond financing derive revenue from the “increment” of state and local sales tax collected in the district that exceeds the base year revenue, which is calendar year 2014.
The total sales tax rate in the district is 8.65 percent, which includes both local and state. Of that, 7.24 percent is eligible for STAR Bond revenue. The study found there is sufficient revenue to cover bond debt over 20 years.
Because the district was created largely before the Schulman Crossing and Stone Development developments got underway, the sales tax base is already in place to support the Sports of the World Complex. Other Star Bond projects have built the attraction and hoped the retail base would develop to provide the revenue.
“We believe that it’s very positive that the retail is already so well developed. Instead of building a project with hopes of attracting enough retail to generate the sales tax needed to make this a viable project, we have the advantage of a proven record of sales in place,” DuVall said.