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December 20, 2009
Wizards head for Kansas after all
So the Kansas City Wizards may not be holding out after all: The team announced Thursday night that it was moving ahead with a new stadium in Kansas City, Kansas, with "yellow machines on site" next week, "moving dirt, at our expense." While team president Robb Heineman noted "the formal agreements have yet to be inked," the plan is for the stadium, part of a $400 million development project being undertaken by the Lane4 Property Group, to open in mid-2011.
What apparently broke the logjam, if that's what it was, was that the Wizards got reassurances that bond buyers would be willing to invest in construction bonds for the project. While the breakdown for the arena itself isn't available, the overall development is in line to get $147 million in sales tax revenue (STAR) bonds, which kick back sales taxes collected in the development area to pay off construction bonds — in other words, a STIF, generally considered one of the more dubious of development funding schemes, since any increase in sales-tax receipts likely comes at the expense of sales taxes raised elsewhere. Some of it, no doubt, will be cannibalized from Kansas City, Missouri, since the Wizards will be relocating from there. But they'll have to sell an awful lot of tickets to make up for $147 million in lost tax revenue.