A Two-Decade Partnership to Strengthen the Wyandotte County / Kansas City, Kansas Community
By Bill Corrado, Director, Public Finance, Municipal Securities Division at Citi December 05, 2016 11:15 AM
Citi’s success lies in its ability to not only deliver for our customers and clients, but also to serve as a trusted partner, investing in long-term, mutually-beneficial relationships. One example is our relationship with the Unified Government of Wyandotte County / Kansas City, Kansas. Spanning almost two decades, the relationship began in the late 1990s with the successful development of the Kansas Speedway and now includes the development of the Village West shopping area, a professional soccer stadium, and, most recently, a professional soccer training and development center.
As a Director and Public Finance banker in Citi’s Municipal Securities Division, I’m proud to have had the opportunity to play a role in raising the financing for the projects that made Kansas City, Kansas and western Wyandotte County the destinations they are today.
We began working together in the late 1990s when the Unified Government was looking for ways to spur economic development in the region and decided to partner with the International Speedway Corporation to turn an expanse of land into a race track. To facilitate the development, the Unified Government engaged Citi to structure and underwrite Sales Tax Revenue Bonds (or STAR Bonds) to finance the construction of the 75,000 seat Kansas Speedway. Innovative at the time, the bonds were structured to rely on sales tax revenues generated within the project area to make the principal and interest payments. Construction began in May of 1999 and in 2001 the Kansas Speedway opened for its inaugural racing season.
Kansas Speedway brought fans to the area and another economic development project, aided again by STAR Bonds, opened shortly thereafter. Village West, an entertainment and retail district which currently showcases more than 100 businesses, opened for shoppers in 2002. Village West provides area residents and visitors with easy access to restaurants, hotels and shops. The success of Village West and the sales tax revenues generated by the businesses enabled the development and financing of additional projects.
One such opportunity presented itself in 2010, when the local professional soccer team was looking to build a soccer-oriented stadium in the greater Kansas City area and sought financial assistance from local governments. Ultimately, the Unified Government partnered on a capital project to build an 18,000 seat soccer stadium in Village West to serve as the home for the team. Given the success of the businesses in the Village West shopping area, the Unified Government once again considered issuing STAR Bonds to raise some of the funds necessary for the project.
Given our prior experience with the Unified Government’s STAR Bonds, knowledge of the community, and understanding of the investor market, the Unified Government once again engaged us to structure and underwrite new STAR Bonds for the soccer stadium. And once again, the Unified Government’s partnership with the team on the development and financing of the soccer stadium , succeeded in generating additional employment and bringing vibrancy to the community.
The Citi team is incredibly proud of our relationship with the Unified Government and the work we have accomplished together. I’m pleased to be able to say that over the past 17 years, Citi has underwritten more than $700 million of bonds for this community. Together with the Unified Government of Wyandotte County / Kansas City, Kansas, we have contributed to the development of an attractive destination for sports, shopping and entertainment.