Lincoln, Nebraska – Tax dollars will cover almost one-fourth of the cost of a $13.8 million sports complex under development in northwest Lincoln.
Developers for the Great American Sports Park are seeking $2.1 million from tax increment financing and $1.18 million through a special 2 percent occupation tax on all sales in the sports complex area.
The TIF funds would be repaid from the property taxes paid by the sports complex over the next 15 years. The occupation tax would be paid by the people who pay the fees to play and buy concessions and souvenirs at the complex.
The 2 percent occupation tax sought by the developers would not apply in other areas of Lincoln, said Wynn Hjermstad, with the city’s Urban Development staff, during public hearings on the Great American Sports Park proposal Monday night.
The City Council will vote on the TIF and occupation tax bonds and on the TIF agreement at its next meeting on June 2.
A project must have private investments of at least $2 million and employ at least 25 people in order to meet the state requirements for the special occupation tax, Hjermstad said.
“This is a developer-driven tool and was requested by the developer,” she said.
The Great American Sports Park is one of two private multifield sports complexes being planned in Lincoln.
The 10 fields planned for the Great American Sports Park are being designed primarily for softball. The sports park, to be constructed on about 38.6 acres at Sun Valley Boulevard and Charleston Street, will include concession stands, parking and new roads.
The entire area is in the flood plain, and it is a former landfill site. There are a lot of challenges, Hjermstad said.
As defined currently, TIF and the revenue from the new occupation tax would be used for the public streets, sidewalks, water and sewer utilities and property acquisition.
The private development is a way to increase the city’s recreation resources without the city picking up the tab, Hjermstad said.
The developers are hoping that the fields will bring in tournaments and become a magnet for hotels and restaurants that might build in an adjacent area.
Developers of the renovated Nebraska Crossing Outlets in Gretna are using the occupation tax to pay for some of the improvements at the shopping center, Rick Peo, chief assistant city attorney, told the council.
Developers of the Great American Sports Complex are also seeking approval from the council to sell alcohol at adults-only events at not only the new softball complex but the existing Optimist Youth Sports Complex in southwest Lincoln.
There are no current plans for using the special occupation tax elsewhere in Lincoln. Another private group is developing a 10-field soccer complex, called Speedway Sporting Park, in southwest Lincoln.