Bob Hanson of Greater Wichita Area Sports Commission Speaks to Sedgwick County Commissioners

At the January 21, 2009 meeting of the Board of Sedgwick County Commissioners, Bob Hanson, President/CEO of the Greater Wichita Area Sports Commission addressed the commission.

We have to step back and wonder why it’s necessary to occupy the time of the Sedgwick County Commissioners and the people of the county who pay attention to these meetings just so that Mr. Hanson can recite the history of his organization.

Here’s something that Hanson said to the commissioners:

“As you are well aware, we are certainly proud of what’s taken place in the development of the Intrust Bank arena. A big congratulations to all of you, past commissioners, and certainly the staff of Sedgwick county for the leadership you have provided for our community in development of this jewel and huge community project. I know you are aware of the important role the Sports Commission and all of our members played in bringing the arena campaign to fruition.”

I wonder if Hanson is aware that several of the commission members who supported the downtown arena were defeated in their bids for re-election. Their support of the arena played a role in that.

Further, the makeup of the current commission would hardly be favorable to passage of a project like the arena. For Hanson to thank the current members for their support of the arena is laughable.

Mr. Hanson and his organization have agitated for government funding of projects that benefit their special interests. The most notable of these is the downtown Wichita arena. That arena is likely to turn out to be a huge ongoing liability for the taxpayers of Sedgwick County. But the GWASC nibbles at the taxpayer in little ways, too. This year Sedgwick County will contribute $5,000 to the GWASC, just as it has in years past.

Tomorrow’s agenda for the Wichita City Council workshop contains an item titled “Greater Wichita Area Sports Commission 2008 Annual Report.” This will likely be a chance for city council members to be treated to the same presentation the county commissioners sat through. Looking at the city’s budget documents it isn’t possible to tell whether the city contributes to the GWASC. The “search” feature on the city’s website isn’t helpful, either. This lack of transparency is something we need to address.

But I think it’s safe to assume that Mr. Hanson and his organization will be asking the Wichita city council for a contribution. His history of asking taxpayers to support his pet projects — rent seeking is the technical term — is known.

5 Comments

  • Mayor Brewer has already indicated to the other City Council members that they need to support matching the County’s contribution to GWASC. Skelton is undecided and will ask questions.

  • Bob,

    You could be right. The arena could be a liability for all the taxpayers of Sedgwick County, but instead of being negative all the time how about being positive.

    What if the arena is a success? What if it draws more people downtown? I really don’t know why you have to be so negative about your community all the time. You need to get over the fact your side lost the arena vote and lost the school bond vote. Why not give the arena a chance to succeed before you start bashing it?

    Finally, I’m still waiting for an answer to my question, which you keep evading. Do you need more evidence the Governor ordered cuts to state agencies or do you concede you were wrong?

  • One of the problems that we have across our country is that we divide people between winners and losers. Bob has the right to be negative and to believe the way that he does. What ever happen to tolerance of ideas or other points of view? We all want the Arena to be successful, but with the track record of government running things we also have the right to be skeptics.

  • Bob, the reports are clear. What I think is you refuse to accept the fact that the Governor did order these cuts. I have another report I will post soon and if that one doesn’t prove it for you then I guess you just don’t pay that close of attention. Oh and when you say “we’ve” I think you really should be saying “you.”

    Cybex, when did I say I was against other viewpoints? If one wants the arena to succeed then why would one start bashing it before it has a chance? I accept that you want the arena to succeed, but I’m not sure about Bob. Also, if Bob wants to be negative about his community then that is his right, but being negative all the time? I don’t see how that helps.

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