Park City approves sale of 40 acres for a new athletic complex

WICHITA — The City Council in Park City tonight approved the sale of 40 acres of land north and west of 61st Street and Broadway for a new athletic complex.

“It’s been a 5-year dream of ours to create that entity for them,” says Barry Newell, owner of Rangers Baseball Academy. He’s also part of the company that owns Walter Johnson League Baseball.

He’s been working with the city for several years to build about nine ballfields, one of which will be a stadium.

Kansas Paving is partnering with him on the deal, which is for about $200,000 plus another $100,000 in road improvements.

“He finally was able to pull everything together,” says Jack Whitson, Park City administrator.

Newell and Kansas Paving will move Rangers Baseball Academy, which helps children improve their games, and rename it at the new complex.

Also, the Park City Rangers, one of two teams Newell owns in the Walter Johnson college league, will play in Park City for the first time under the deal.

That’s part of what led to it.

“We told him that, you know, unless he starts playing in Park City . . . we’re going to quit funding him,” Whitson says. “It doesn’t do much good to fund a team with our name that doesn’t play in our town.”

Newell says he understands that.

“That is a big caveat for them.”

He says he also feels like there’s a need for more fields in the Park City area.

Still, after years of fighting for this — with changes to the economy and Park City government along the way — he can’t quite believe it’s happening.

“It’s a little surreal now,” Newell says.

“It’s been past life support. It’s been dead so many times.”

He says it might be one of those careful-what-you-wish-for situations.

“I’ve got a huge challenge before me now,” he says.

“I’ve got to go out and deliver.”