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Site proposed for Kansas City Wizards stadium

KANSAS CITY, Kan. -- A property developer working for the company that owns Major League Soccer's Kansas City Wizards has proposed building an 18,500-seat soccer stadium near Kansas City, Kan., that could open by 2011 and would sink plans to use the stadium to revitalize a neighborhood across the border in Kansas City, Mo.

The Unified Government of Wyandotte County and Kansas City, Kan., was scheduled to meet Wednesday to discuss the $414 million proposal. Lane4 Properties Group, the developer working for Wizards owner OnGoal LLC, is seeking to use existing sales tax revenue bonds, or STAR bonds, to pay for the project.

The project, which would be built near the Kansas Speedway, would include the soccer stadium, an amateur sports complex with at least 12 athletic fields, and an office complex that could accommodate 4,000 workers for Cerner, a fast-growing medical software company based in North Kansas City, Mo.

City officials in Kansas City, Mo., had hoped to use a new Wizards stadium to anchor the revitalization of the city's Bannister Mall area. The city had been working on a $1 billion plan to build a mixed-used project at the defunct mall. The City Council approved a redevelopment plan in December 2007 that included $273.3 million in city and sales tax incentives, to be repaid with new tax revenues from the retail portion of the project, according to The Kansas City Star,

When financial markets collapsed a few months later, Lane4 sought additional incentives to move forward with at least the stadium and an amateur soccer complex. But the city, facing financial troubles of its own, was unwilling to pledge its credit to back the bond.

Rob Heineman, president of OnGoal -- whose ownership group includes Cerner co-founders Neal Patterson and Cliff Illig -- said the most recent proposal put forth by Kansas City, Mo., wouldn't allow the team to meet its target of being in the new stadium by 2011.

Wyandotte County officials said Village West has been generating about $40 million a year in sales tax revenue. At that rate, it is expected to repay the original STAR bond in late 2013 or 2014, six years ahead of schedule.

By using existing STAR bond revenues through 2020, as originally planned, the Wizards stadium and office project could be funded without needing any new revenue stream.


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