Wichita theater operator Bill Warren may build an IMAX theater in Oklahoma using economic development incentives. The Wichita Business Journal reports that Warren has been offered a sales tax rebate program there as an incentive.
This is newsworthy because last year Warren received economic development incentives from the City of Wichita based partly on the uniqueness of the proposed theater in the region. At that time Wichita city officials said the Wichita theater would be a “major tourism attraction,” drawing from as far away as Texas. But with another Warren IMAX possibly being built near Oklahoma City, I think we can now acknowledge that we were mislead.
When Warren applied to the Wichita City Council for favored tax treatment for this theater, he implied that without the city’s largesse, he’d take his IMAX theater elsewhere. In his remarks at the council meeting where the tax favoritism was approved, Wichita Mayor Carl Brewer bought into the myth that there can be only one Warren IMAX theater when he said: “A lot of other cities want this IMAX … they’re on the internet watching this city council meeting to see what we’re going to do because they’re going to make a bid for this IMAX.”
Evidently Mayor Brewer didn’t consider that there could be more than one IMAX theater in the region.
This entire episode is more evidence that the Wichita City Council will believe almost anything told to them, as long as it involves the possibility of economic development and jobs.