The state of Kansas reached a $7 million settlement with the parent company of Sporting Kansas City to resolve a dispute about repayment of taxpayer-funded economic development incentives relied upon to build Cerner Corp.’s office complex in Wyandotte County, officials said Oct. 27.
OnGoal, the parent company of the professional soccer franchise, pledged to complete the settlement payments in 2025. Cerner’s exodus from WYCO had left OnGoal responsible for the IT company’s economic development obligations.
The $7 million will be distributed this way:
Willa Gill Services Center, $2 million;
2026 FIFA World Cup, $2 million;
Quindaro Ruins, $1 million;
Community projects east of I-635, $1 million;
Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Hall, $500,000;
WYCO Historical Museum, $250,000; and
Agricultural Center & Hall of Fame, $250,000.
The administration of Gov. Sam Brownback provided Cerner with $48 million in incentives in 2010 to build an office complex in WYCO in exchange for the company’s promise to shower 4,500 jobs on Kansas.
In 2011, the job metric obligations linked to the government-backed incentives were dropped in concert with a deal with OnGoal that led to construction of the soccer stadium for Sporting Kansas City.
In 2021, Cerner put the set of office towers that opened in 2013 in western Kansas City, KS, up for sale and relocated employees. Cerner was later bought by Oracle.
The Brownback-era arrangement involving Cerner and OnGoal permitted the state to invoke clawback mechanisms to recoup up to $3.04 million annually for five consecutive years if Cerner didn’t meet payroll requirements. For the year ending Dec. 31, 2021, payroll tax collections were insufficient and the Unified Government of Wyandotte County demanded in July 2022 the first $3.04 million payment from OnGoal.
The Brownback-era arrangement spawning construction of the office complex and the soccer stadium intertwined Cerner, OnGoal, the Unified Government and the state of Kansas. To protect taxpayers, OnGoal — the parent of Sporting Kansas City — agreed to be responsible for financial clawbacks if Cerner failed to meet economic development targets.
Once Cerner bolted from WYCO, it left guarantor OnGoal with potential repayment obligations of $15 million.
Attorney Korb Maxwell, speaking on behalf of OnGoal, said the company appreciated its partnership with the state and county.
“For more than a decade, OnGoal has been committed and invested in the local community and looks forward to further enhancing Kansas City, KS, as a major destination,” Maxwell said.
OnGoal’s contributions could begin in November with regard to Quindaro and Memorial Hall. Other payments should be completed by the end of 2025.
“This agreement ensures sales tax dollars still are being utilized to further the state’s tourism goals and puts money back into the community to have lasting impact,” Lt. Gov. David Toland said.