Garden City expects tourism boom from STAR bond


GARDEN CITY, Kan. (KSNW) – Garden City’s commission approved a STAR bond proposal to build a multi-sport complex on the east side of town.

Officials say that the facility is expected to bring in $17 million per year to the city in tourism.

It’s an exciting prospect for small business owners who are eager to sell to more visitors.

“People will be coming in, they’re going to want to eat somewhere, they’re going to want to check out what’s going on downtown, they’re going to want to check out what else is here,” said Haleigh Kells, who co-owns a store in downtown Garden City. “I think it’ll be great.”

Once complete, it will house a range of different sports and is meant to attract 150,000 visitors to Garden each year.

“Two indoor full size soccer fields,” explained Evan Fitts, who represents the developers, “four indoor basketball courts, an indoor competition aquatics center, a thousand seat conference center, spectator seating.”

Local developers Amro Samy and Cecil O’Brate are heading up the project, which will be paid off over 22 years by redirecting sales tax generated there from the government to the developers.

Some residents expressed concern about what would happen if the facility isn’t profitable.

“Is there potential for obligation to the city down the road with this,” asked resident Lindsay Byrnes, “depending on how the retail and the secondary developments work out?”

Fitts addressed her question at a city commission meeting, saying there is no public burden.

“To the extent there is any shortfall in those revenues,” said Fitts, “the only party that is actually on the hook, if you will, is the bond owner that goes out and purchases them.”

The next step is for the STAR bond proposal to go to the Kansas Department of Commerce for approval.

That’s expected to be done by December. After public input, construction could start early next year.

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