$865,000 Cricket Wireless amphitheater upgrade approved

An expansion at Cricket Wireless amphitheater was approved, without any discussion, during the Aug. 27 Unified Government Commission meeting.

Repairs and upgrades totaling $865,000 at Cricket Wireless Amphitheater in Bonner Springs are planned. The amphitheater is owned by Wyandotte County. Approved at the Aug. 27 meeting was a $750,000 bond issue plus a $115,000 payment.

The UG and Bonner Springs are to provide the additional $115,000 in cash to begin the project, according to UG documents. Bonner Springs had to approve this project, also.

The facility is in need of major capital improvements to address safety issues and improve the appearance of the grounds and buildings, according to UG documents.

Although the UG Public Building Commission, which could be used to issue the bonds, was scheduled to meet on Aug. 27, that meeting was canceled. The Public Building Commission now will meet at 11 a.m. Monday, Aug. 31, in the ninth floor conference room at City Hall, 701 N. 7th, Kansas City, Kan.

At an Aug. 10 UG Standing Committee meeting, Chris Fritz, manager of New West Presentations, the operator of the amphitheater since 2008, said that the last big renovations there were in 1991, when about $3 million was spent. The amphitheater has been operating since 1984 near 130th and State Avenue and was formerly known as Sandstone Amphitheater.

Fritz described business as good until the economy experienced problems in 2008, and touring declined nationally. After a difficult year in 2012, New West changed the structure at the amphitheater from one exclusive promoter. Now it has opened concerts to different promoters, he said. In 2013, the amphitheater held 14 events, and in 2014, it held 18, he said.

This year there are about 35 events scheduled for the amphitheater, including 11 concerts, 10 community events and 14 other rentals, Fritz said. A balloon race is scheduled there in late October.

“We’re building and really confident our numbers are going to go up,” he said at the committee meeting.

Last year the amphitheater saw under 50,000 paid tickets, and this year it will be close to 75,000, he added. The ultimate goal will be 120,000 paid tickets, he said.

Joe Connor, UG assistant administrator, said at the Aug. 10 meeting that the UG financing would be based on the operator’s ability to repay the debt.

He said the concrete infrastructure needs to be replaced and fixed, for basic safety needs. Parking and walking surfaces are inadequate, he said.

The plan is to repair and freshen up the buildings, including concessions stand and restrooms, and make them look better, he added.

There also are some new seats planned, he said. The resolution also lists improvements to the stage area, irrigation, a backstage pavilion, fencing and gate improvements, plumbing, lighting, insulation for the stage, and other necessary improvements.

The $750,000 bond financing was planned for a 10-year period, he said.

New West pays an annual fee to the UG, according to UG officials. The user fee paid to the UG was proposed to be $50,000, reduced from the current $90,000, Connor said. Bonner Springs would accept less for the ticket fee, at $15,000. Currently it receives an average of $23,000.

New West would make an annual bond and interest payment of $92,500 per year, so that means its total annual payments would be $157,500 when the fees to the UG and Bonner Springs are included, according to UG documents.

The New West payments were based on revenue from 52,500 tickets sold at $3 per ticket, according to officials. After a 52,500 minimum number of tickets is reached, New West would pay an additional 75 cents per ticket to the UG and 25 cents to Bonner Springs, according to UG documents.

According to Bonner Springs city documents, New West pays sales tax, liquor tax and a 50-cent per ticket amusement tax to the city from the amphitheater. Over the last five years, this revenue has totaled $465,430. But in 2012, according to Bonner Springs documents, this amusement tax was not paid to the city and it is being paid back in smaller amounts over a 36-month period ending in May 2016. Bonner Springs is still expecting these funds to be paid back, according to Bonner Springs documents.

Riverview-Turner Diagonal area light industrial park project

A resident brought up concerns about traffic, stormwater runoff, envioronmental impact, and effect on taxes to the nearby resident’s property in regards to a NorthPoint development at 6925 Riverview Ave. Project developers said they had plans that would take care of traffic, stormwater runoff and environmental effect.

The project is a light industrial park in the Turner Diagonal area. A change of zoning to light industrial and industrial park district was approved. The commission added a stipulation that NorthPoint would replace pipes along Speaker Road, as the developer promised at the meeting.

Bodyguard issue

The Wyandotte Daily News is unable to report if there are any changes to the UG bodyguard and personal security officers program for the mayor and other public officials, whether the $250,000 expenditure was changed, whether the commission decided to go with a less expensive private security firm for bodyguards, or a less expensive plan, as suggested at the July 20 budget meeting, because that meeting on Aug. 27 was closed to the public.


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