Wichita State's independent, student-run news source

The Sunflower

Wichita State's independent, student-run news source

The Sunflower

Wichita State's independent, student-run news source

The Sunflower

Kansas offers $200 million in bonds to lure theme park in Bonner Springs, ‘car’ plant in Wichita

The ‘car’ manufacturing plant could be adjacent to Wichita State’s Innovation Campus.
Republican Rep. Troy Waymaster, center, discusses with Senate budget negotiators provisions authorizing the state to issue $200 million in STAR bonds to support development of a Mattel themed park in Bonner Springs and a large-scale manufacturing plant in Wichita. (Screenshot courtesy of the Kansas Reflector)

This story was reported and published by the Kansas Reflector

The budget bill forwarded to Gov. Laura Kelly by the Kansas Legislature includes about $200 million in economic development incentives that could be used to attract a Mattel amusement park in Bonner Springs and a yet-to-be-disclosed “car” manufacturing plant adjacent to Wichita State University’s innovation campus.

The Mattel toy-themed park that would be developed by Epic Resort Destinations — the first of its kind is under construction in Glendale, Arizona — would be part of a 180-acre, $500 million tourist hub in Wyandotte County. It would feature a Barbie restaurant and beach house, a Hot Wheels roller coaster, a Masters of the Universe laser tag arena, a mini-golf course tied to board games as well as a retail areas, hotels and an RV park.

“Mattel Adventure Park Kansas City will bring our iconic brands to life with epic roller coasters, family-friendly attractions, an immersive theatre, themed dining and so much more,” said Josh Silverman, chief franchise officer at Mattel.

Plans submitted by the developer indicated approximately two-thirds of the estimated cost could be privately financed with other funding derived from state and local incentive packages, including $100 million in STAR bonds. The state-issued bonds have been used for decades to provide upfront capital for developers of tourism and business projects in Kansas. Bond debt would be covered by sales tax revenue generated within a business district that included the project.

Authorization for issuance of bonds for Mattel was part of the new state budget forwarded to Kelly but was contained in last year’s state budget so the offer could be part of the sales pitch, said Rep. Troy Waymaster, the Republican chairman of the House Appropriations Committee.

“That is the reason why Kansas was selected,” Waymaster said. “Because we had this STAR bond provision in our budget last year.”

During House and Senate negotiations on a new state budget for the fiscal year starting July 1, Republican Sen. J.R. Claeys of Salina said approximately $100 million in STAR bonds should be made available for a “large-scale manufacturing” project at the Innovation Campus of Wichita State University.

The bond proposal would be active until Dec. 31, 2025, at which point the recipient would need to have broken ground on the plant, he said.

“I don’t want to speak about the very fine details about what’s coming because, of course, these are all competitive projects,” said Claeys, a member of the Senate Ways and Means Committee. “There would be an entity there that would be the purchaser of the item being manufactured.”

Apparently, sales tax associated with payment of bond debt would be collected when this secondary business sold the product to consumers.

Waymaster, while explaining to House members the STAR bond projects included in the state budget, said the innovative campus development at WSU would be for a “car manufacturing plant.” He didn’t elaborate on what company was considering locating in the university district.

The Legislature voted to create the STAR bond program in 1993. Under the nation’s first program of its kind, state and local sales tax revenue was obligated to repay bonds on Kansas projects that had an economic development component. Local governments in Wichita, Hutchinson, Atchison, Manhattan, Salina, Dodge City, Topeka, Garden City, Derby and Goddard have made use of the bonds to finance property acquisition, site preparation and infrastructure costs.

The law was amended to enable Wyandotte County to use STAR bonds to undertake construction of the Kansas Speedway and Village West, which have been considered economic successes. Some of these projects have struggled to generate revenue to keep pace with bond payments. In January, the Prairiefire retail and museum in Johnson County defaulted on STAR bond debt after receiving $65 million for the development.


The orginal story can be read at the Kansas Reflector.

Leave a Comment

Comments (0)

All The Sunflower Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *