UG Commission approves Homefield development changes

Robb Heineman presented an updated view of the $150 million Homefield development project, on the site of the former Schlitterbahn waterpark, at Thursday’s Unified Government Commission meeting. A Margaritaville hotel and resort now is confirmed for the former Schlitterbahn site. The Perfect Game baseball development also is confirmed for the development.

The proposed Homefield building is a $60 million development now in the planning stages. The building now is planned to be east of its original location on State Avenue.

In a unanimous 9-0 vote, the Unified Government Commission on Thursday night approved the Homefield development agreement changes.

The project, at the former Schlitterbahn waterpark site and surrounding area, includes a bond request for $150 million. Youth sports tourism has been a major component of the project.

The Homefield project expanded to include an $85 million Margaritaville hotel and resort at the former waterpark site near 94th and State, according to Robb Heineman, who is leading the project for developers. Managing partners for the Homefield project are Greg Maday and Trey Bowen.

There has been an expansion of the baseball part of the project from $15 million to $40 million, with the additional of a Perfect Game development, according to Heineman. The Homefield building will be a $60 million development on the east side of 94th and State, a little east of its original location in plans.

Some of the other parts of the development include the Fairfield Inn, a Camping World RV retail location next to Menards, and the Millhouse apartments, with 270 units.

The STAR (sales tax revenue) bond request changed from the 2020 plans for $75 million in a first issuance and $55 million in a second issuance. The amount approved Thursday night was $130 million in a first issuance, to be followed by $20 million in a second issuance.

One of the reasons for this change, according to Katherine Carttar, UG economic development director, is to make sure the 2015 STAR Series B bonds at the Schlitterbahn site would be paid off and the UG would not be on the hook to pay them. First bond proceeds of the new issue will go to pay off the Series B bonds.

The Homefield project will pay $241,000 to the Unified Government in place of taxes for the first year, and through the years that amount will grow to $263,855 in the 10th year, according to UG officials. The baseball development will pay $106,703 to the UG in place of taxes the first year, growing to $116,699 in the 10th year.

Heineman said the development has committed to invest $4.35 million in projects on the east side of Kansas City, Kansas, in historically underserved areas. These would be investments in for-profit businesses. The UG Commission changed the original plan for UG administrative approval of these investments to a full Commission approval of them.

Among the benefits to the community, according to Todd LaSala, an outside counsel for the UG, would be a headquarters located in Wyandotte County, discounts for citizens on admission, outdoor and baseball components, including local teams in tournaments, and working with Wyandotte County school districts to provide access for events and training during nonpeak times. There also would be 500 tickets provided annually to the UG Parks and Recreation for admission to Homefield outdoor events.

Also, there are requirements for the development to include local, women and minority owned businesses as contractors. There is a penalty of 4 percent of the proceeds of the bonds if they do not use their best efforts to meet the goals, according to LaSala.

Heineman said the development is willing to work with local officials on other community ideas they may have.

Mayor Tyrone Garner asked for more information on the $4.35 million in investments the developer will be making on the east side of Kansas City, Kansas, and he pointed out that it is not a grant, and the developer could make a return on the investments.

Heineman said they were looking at each of the projects brought forward by the commission and local officials, and they intend to invest in quality projects that are good for the community. The $4.35 million would be a one-time investment, perhaps in several different projects.

Mayor Garner said he hoped they could see the need in Wyandotte County of the lack of affordable housing, needs of seniors, need for recreational programs, need to address homelessness and poverty, and make an annual investment, not just a one-time investment in the community.

Heineman pointed out that in past dealings with the UG involving the professional soccer facilities, he and his partners had worked collaboratively with the UG Commission on a program to build futsal courts that helped youth in every district of the community. They will be looking for programs that benefit the community this time, also.

He said he had a vision of developing this youth sports attraction into one of the best sports destinations in the United States.

Many different sorts of jobs will accompany the development, including medical office providers who may employ 100 or so persons in high-paying jobs; Camping World sales representatives who could make $200,000 a year; 500 to 600 employees at Margaritaville, which could expand to 2,000 jobs of different levels of wages.

The entire development now is close to $400 million, he said. He hopes it will be the largest tourist destination in the state of Kansas in four or five years, he added.

The Homefield development sent out a statement after the Thursday night vote:


“The Homefield partnership is proud to lead this project and is excited for what it means for the future of youth sports in our region. As a hometown company, we look forward to working with the Unified Government of Wyandotte County and the State of Kansas to bring this first-of-its-kind athletic resort to Kansas City.

Consisting of world-class amenities, elite coaches and trainers, venues for multiple sports activities, and health and wellness innovations, the project will create an unparalleled sports experience for young athletes of all levels and their families.

A Margaritaville resort, developed by Homefield and Sunflower Development Group, LLC, will bring Kansas City its first premier resort destination catering to both local residents and visitors to the region for youth sports and family vacations.

We look forward to sharing more details on this transformational project in the near future.”

• Homefield Managing Partners Greg Maday and Trey Bowen

To see an earlier story about the Homefield development, visit http://www.wyandottedaily.com/150-million-homefield-project-expands-to-include-margaritaville-resort/