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Legoland Kansas City one step closer to reality

2007-04-18

By Robert Niles: Our friends at the Kansas City Star sent word that Kansas City's proposed Legoland theme park is one step closer to being built.

The Lee's Summit Tax Increment Financing Commission (let's hear it for levels of bureaucracy I didn't know existed) voted 6-4 to recommend that the city council approve the project. The recommendation is essential given the way that Legoland wants to pay for the park, which would open in 2009.

Financing for the Lee's Summit project depends on revenue bonds to be repaid by local and state tax-increment financing and a Community Improvement District that adds an extra 1-cent sales tax.

The cost of constructing the Legoland theme park is estimated at $155 million, with the developers paying $48 million. Tax-increment financing, in which part of new tax revenue generated by development is used to pay some costs, would be used for such things as roads and infrastructure improvements.

The project, even if approved by Lee's Summit officials, is contingent on getting approval of a state TIF from the Missouri Department of Economic Development and from the General Assembly.

Developers said the city could gain $121 million in new revenue during the 23-year life of the TIF. The Lee's Summit School District would get an additional $51 million, they said, and Jackson County $84 million.


Readers' Opinions

From Merl Clark on April 19, 2007 at 6:07 AM
A total waste of money
From David Renteria on April 19, 2007 at 10:11 AM
I still don't get it. What a horrible location.
From Robert Niles on April 19, 2007 at 10:44 AM
I've mentioned this before, but I really believe that Lego is trying to avoid obvious, popular locations as a way of limiting attendance at its theme parks. A Legoland simply isn't designed to handle four-million-plus visitors a year.

Designing it to handle those crowds would require Lego to fundamentally alter its concept of individual play-driven attractions (as opposed to attractions designed for large and more passive audiences, such as those on a roller coaster or watching in a theater).

So that leaves a couple other options for reducing crowds: Jack up the price (the Discovery Cove model), or put the park in an out-of-the-way place. Lego's decided, I suppose, that it better serves its family audience with the second.

That said, Lego's not picking bad locations for its parks. Carlsbad is beautiful and has lovely family-friendly amenities near. And this Kansas City suburb appears to have the yuppie demo that Lego's after. And it's located reasonably near a major interstate, as well.

So I think they'll get their million a year there. Yes, Legoland could do five million a year in Garden Grove or six in Orlando. Legoland reminds me of an art-house filmmaker, who could try to make a blockbuster, but is actually happier making a living crafting critically acclaimed films that relatively few people ever see.

From Kevin Carlyle on April 21, 2007 at 4:38 PM
That's a great location. It's booming part of the state full of homes with kids to visit it. It's near two major interstates, I-35 and I-70, both transcontinental.

The metro area is already a tourist destination. The second KC metro Bass Pro Shop is being built less than 30 minutes away, which draws in tons of families. A new arena is being built downtown. The speedway was built in KCK.

The city is becoming a theme park destination city

Oceans of Fun (Cedar Falls property) is in KCMO
Schlitterbahn Vacation Village is being opened in KCK

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