By Susan Gager
KWCH 12 Eyewitness News
6:01 PM CST, January 15, 2013
Two new proposed sport complexes are just miles apart and now developers are trying to set their projects apart. Tuesday the Wichita City Council approved a preliminary plan for Good Sports Fieldhouse in northeast Wichita. Just a few miles away in Bel Aire, the Kansas Sports Academy is also in the works.
If you want to compare apples to apples, the proplsals both include a sports complex, water park facility, and retail space. The Bel Aire developer wants to open the facility near Rock Road and K- 254. A few miles away, another developer wants to open a complex near the new Cabela's at Greenwich and K-96.
The Bel Aire developer says his project is different. “If you say water park-water park, sports complex-sport complex, yes. You can spin that so it sounds like the same thing. Ours are different scope, larger, more things we're bringing, variety,” said Bel Aire developer Tom Blitz.
Blitz doesn't want to be more specific about those differences until he find out whether the state will provide the project with the incentive of STAR bonds. It’s an incentive both developers are after.
STAR bonds allow Kansas municipalities the opportunity to issue bonds to finance the development of major commercial, entertainment and tourism areas and use the sales tax revenue generated by the development to pay off the bonds. A STAR bond project must be approved by the state.
“I don't know if the state is going to pick winners or losers, but I think we should stand on the merits we're bringing to the table and we're independent. I hope they do well. We're going to do what we're going to do and not worry about what they're going to do,” said Blitz.
Blitz says he's worked on his project for three years and is ready to start construction by the end of the year.
The other project, Good Sports Fieldhouse received approval from the Wichita City Council.
“This is a very positive step forward. For over two years we have been working to get this project together. The approval of the city of Wichita is the lynch pin to moving onto the next step of state approval,” said Good Sports lawyer Korb Maxwell.
This plan includes a dozen basketball courts or 24 volleyball courts, indoor soccer, space for wrestling and fencing. It also includes a Wavehouse aquatic attraction, hotels, and retailers. If successful, developers hope to bring more than a million visitors in a year, and $80 million in revenue.
“We feel confident we can work with the state hopefully work for them very quickly for an approval for Wichita, be starting construction this spring,” said Maxwell.
The state must still decide whether to support the projects. If that happens, the Blitz says he'll release more details about his Bel Aire plan.
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