Details buried in documents associated with the January 21st City Council agenda show the Wichita baseball stadium project has skyrocketed from the original $75 million to $210 million. Multiple phone calls and messages to the city’s economic development office seeking comment on the story have not been returned.
On January 7th, 2020, the Wichita City Council approved a new Community Improvement District (CID) for the stadium. A review of the agenda reports for that meeting and the December 17th meeting in which the CID was proposed, both put the cost of the stadium project at $75 million. Two weeks later on January 21st, 2020, the projected cost of the stadium was $210 million. That raises the question of whether City Council and Mayor Whipple knew the project was really $210 million when they voted on the CID.
On January 21st, an amendment to add the Riverfront Village development property, currently home to Metropolitan Baptist Church, to the newly created CID was proposed. The city council will vote in February on approving the CID amendment.
The Sentinel asked Mayor Brandon Whipple if he knew what prompted the sudden jump in the project. He said, “Really good question and one I’d be interested in as well. I’m looping in Megan who might be able to direct you to the right person. As you mention, this started before I was sworn in and thus I have not been in the conversation, but will help you find the information you need.”
$75 million has been the stated price tag for the development since construction was announced in early 2019. The $210 million price tag referenced in the city council was not qualified at all. With city employees not responding to the Sentinel as to why the stadium costs nearly tripled, the reason is open to speculation, until such a time that the city will answer questions regarding the cost.