Flipping the bill
Operating the Facility
The local group behind this project knows that the main questions people will ask is: how much will it cost and how will we pay for it? The planned location for the facility is nearby the new Crowne Plaza hotel project owned by Paul Younes. This placement of a public use facility within 600 yards of the new hotel and convention center means that it is eligible for the State of Nebraska’s Sports Arena Facility Financing Assistance Act. The tax turnback would include up to 70-percent of state sales tax collected within the sports facility, as well as part of state sales tax collected by retailers located within the 600-yard area. On October 5, the state approved our application for a tax turnback worth up to $15 Million towards this project!
With the $15 Million committed from the state’s tax turnback program, the remaining cost would need to be covered by a mix of private funds and the extension of Kearney’s 1% Restaurant Occupation Tax. Kearney citizens may recall that the current 1% restaurant tax, which is set to end in 2022, was used to pay for the Patriot Park baseball and softball complex. It is a proposed extension of the tax – not a tax increase – which would be extended for 20 years or less.
Due to the proposed extension of the Restaurant Occupation Tax, this requires a special vote which is schedule for December 14th. A vote in favor of the extension ensures all funding necessary for construction would be secured. More details on the special ballot vote will be available in the coming weeks.
Kearney’s 1% restaurant tax is lower, but comparable to other cities in Nebraska such as Omaha (2.5%), Lincoln (2%), Norfolk (2%), and Grand Island (1.5%). Any place offering food or beverages would be subject to the tax extension.
Once built, the facility is expected to be operated by the City of Kearney Parks and Recreation Department. To help with operational costs, the Kearney Visitors Bureau and a private donor have committed to providing up to $350,000 in annual contributions. The KVB will also provide a $1,000,000 endowment. The 15 acres of land for the complex will be donated by a private donor who also pledges to provide exterior maintenance such as landscaping and snow removal at no expense to the city.
The facility will host practices, games, and tournaments. Events are expected to draw visitors from across Nebraska and beyond, bringing hotel, restaurant, and retail business to Kearney.