Intrust Bank Arena’s missing name


A note to readers: I served as co-manager of Peterjohn’s campaign in 2008.

The commemorative plaque on the Intrust Bank Arena in downtown Wichita, Kansas.The commemorative plaque on the Intrust Bank Arena in downtown Wichita, Kansas.

On the commemorative plaque outside the Intrust Bank Arena in downtown Wichita, there’s a missing name.

The names of eight Sedgwick County commissioners appear, including all who were members of the Commission when the arena sales tax passed in November 2004, all who have served since then, and all present commissioners.

Except for one: current third district commissioner Karl Peterjohn.

In 2004 Peterjohn led opposition to the sales tax ballot measure that funded the arena. When he decided early in 2008 that he would run for the commission against long-time Republican incumbent Tom Winters, Peterjohn told Winters that the next commissioner would have their name on a plaque on the arena. On primary election night, when Peterjohn defeated Winters, Peterjohn told me “I told him [Winters] he could have that spot, and I’m keeping my word.”

It was a gracious gesture.

There’s been a small controversy surrounding Peterjohn in his new role as arena supporter. He participated in the arena’s recent ribbon-cutting ceremony. More importantly, he voted last February for a $1.7 million seating upgrade. That upgrade would reduce the cost of transition between events, and also improve seating and viewing.

That vote, along with participation in the ribbon-cutting, is central to Peterjohn’s goal of seeing that the arena is a success and doesn’t become a fiscal burden on taxpayers. Although the contract with SMG, the arena’s management firm, shields Sedgwick County from losses, that contract comes to an end someday. It’s also full of loopholes that, in my opinion, would allow SMG to make an early exit if arena finances are not favorable.

Working for the success of the arena, therefore, is a logical continuation of Peterjohn’s concern for the taxpayer, the same concern as when he opposed the arena in 2004, he said.

There’s also been grumbling that county commissioners and bureaucrats will receive perks such as tickets and premium parking passes to arena events. Peterjohn said he’s received no tickets or parking perks.

A Wichita Eagle blog post by Deb Gruver on this topic is Karl Peterjohn’s name not on Intrust Bank Arena sign.


6 responses to “Intrust Bank Arena’s missing name”

  1. Dismal Scientist

    Good for Karl! He is keeping his principles. I will never set foot in Intrust Bank Arena until the public auction takes place that privatizes it! I hope the Brad Paisley parking situation goes terribly. I cannot wait to hear the complaints……wwaahh wwaahh….

  2. Wichitator

    I’m glad that the parking downtown was not a problem. Whether a commissioner has his or her name missing on the plaque won’t matter a lick on the really important stuff.

    It will be interesting to observe any new “economic development” from the brand new Intrust Arena.

  3. OMD

    I really cant understand anyones gripes with the building of the Arena, what is every anti gov, anti moving forward persons gripes, could you please answer me that question?

    Seems like a ‘few people’ with nothing better to do than waist peoples time jump on board a train to know were, and, Im pretty sure these few are the non productive citizens of Sedgwick County.

  4. Bob

    Many of us that supported the arena did so based on the information provided at District Advisory Boards, several presentation for the public and statements from local officials. Those proposals included an arena with 18,000 seating capacity, 3,000 new parking spaces, upgrading Brit Brown arena and the assurance that there was a need for both facilities. We did not get what we voted for and that is an issue that deserves holding our elected official responsible.

  5. Betty Sue Petty

    I attended the Thunder hockey game 1/23;the arena is nice,but the parking is not.People were strung out for blocks walking to and from the arena,at least it wasn’t raining!
    What more can be said about the lack of planning for parking,I did not know there was supposed to be an additional 3000 parking spaces.

  6. Ron Mexico

    Just to set the record straight over eight years later, Peterjohn never told Winters “he could have that spot”. In fact, Peterjohn initially refused to have his name on the arena plaque given his entire platform was based on running against it. It didn’t matter anyway, Winters told Peterjohn on Election Night back in ’08. “They have rules for things like that.”

    Peterjohn apparently had a change of heart later after being sworn in and asked that his name be included on the building. However, county staff told him that wasn’t possible. Not only had the plaque already been produced but only those commissioners sitting on the board when voters passed the temporary 1-cent sales tax were eligible. In other words, Peterjohn had absolutely nothing to do with the downtown arena. The project was already rolling towards a new future for downtown when he was sworn in. That’s why his name isn’t on the plaque.

    “Gracious gesture” my ass.

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