The city of Wichita is aiming for a March 2020 completion date on its new multi-use baseball stadium in Delano.
City Council members Tuesday morning approved a memorandum of understanding with its new Triple-A team, the New Orleans Baby Cakes, an affiliate of the Miami Marlins.
The city will build a $75 million stadium to replace historic Lawrence-Dumont Stadium and will spend another $6 million on riverfront renovations, including a new pedestrian bridge over the Arkansas River.
The minor league team will cover the cost of utilities, staffing and maintenance at the new ballpark, in addition to paying $350,000 annually in rent. The MOU also includes a jointly funded Emergency Air Travel Fund of $200,000.
The agreement was a last-minute addition to the city's agenda, something Vice Mayor Bryan Frye said was concerning.
"I understand this is an MOU, but I only got it about an hour ago," he said. "That's pretty frustrating and disappointing for us to try get through all of us and understand all of the ramifications and then vote on it today."
The city and team can still make changes before they come to a final agreement.
The stadium and riverfront improvements will be funded mostly through STAR bonds and Tax Increment Financing, which capture additional tax revenue in the area.
City Council members also approved a plan to end a lease agreement with the Wichita Wingnuts early and pay the independent baseball team $2.2 million to cover the years left in the contract. The Wingnuts in 2015 signed a 10-year lease with the city for use of Lawrence-Dumont Stadium, which is set to be demolished before the end of the year.