Lutz, Hanson, Fahnestock owe Wichita an apology


In the campaign for the sales tax to build the downtown Wichita arena (Intrust Bank Arena), the idea of hosting NCAA men’s basketball games was promoted as something that would happen if voters approved the arena.

This week we learned that for this event, our arena has been rejected for the next three years.

Three arena boosters in particular — Bob Hanson of the Greater Wichita Area Sports Commission, businessman George Fahnestock, and Wichita Eagle sports columnist Bob Lutz — owe Wichita and Sedgwick County voters an apology.

As it turns out, Lutz was quite the visionary in a June 18, 2004 Wichita Eagle column, in which he wrote: “Imagine our city bidding for an NCAA Tournament subregional or the Big 12 Tournament.”

We don’t have to imagine anymore.


15 responses to “Lutz, Hanson, Fahnestock owe Wichita an apology”

  1. Anonymous

    But the existence of an arena isn’t the only thing the NCAA looks at. They want to see that an arena has a track record of drawing good attendance to events, the arena staff have experience managing events of a similar nature, access to the arena is easy, parking is convenient, there are plenty of restaurants and hotel spaces nearby, etc. etc. etc.

    Considering the arena hasn’t hosted a single event yet, I’m not at all surprised they were turned down. After a season or two of hockey, some concerts, WSU basketball games, and that sort of thing, there’s a MUCH more realistic shot of earning an NCAA or Big XII tournament site.

    Heck, the Ford Center in Oklahoma City opened in 2002 and didn’t manage to host a Big XII tournament until 2007. Expecting to immediately land a major tournament in an unproven arena is more than a little unreasonable.

  2. Anonymous

    I agree with the above…Rome wasn’t built in a day, neither should the expectations of a facility that hasn’t opened yet. Geez, what are we expecting, instant gratification!!!!! Why even go for a Big 12 tournament, the Missouri Valley would work…it’s a sluff conference.

  3. Ruben

    You need the involvement of the Mayor to bring some firepower to the negotiations, but in our case Brewer is too incompetent to bring anyone to our City. Remember when he ran off the National Bowling Congress?

  4. Larry Weber

    The first two have it right. It does take a track record to get to host a NCAA event. NO APOLOGY NEEDED

  5. Toldya So

    I have a cousin that has worked for the NCAA for nearly 20 years. One of the draws that the other cities had that Wichita didn’t was a hotel/casino. Tulsa just opened the new Toby Keith Hard Rock cafe and CASINO, so you should add Mark Kahrs and Bishop Jackels to the apology list.

  6. Pat

    No apologies are necessary. The anti-arena people contribute nothing productive to this community on this matter. The only thing they want to do is play arm-chair quarterback and second guess every decision even remotely related to the arena. They should be the ones apologizing.

  7. Mike

    Hi Pat, no we have a lot of productive things to discuss about the arena since we’re paying for it, and will probably continue to do so for the next 5 decades. We have no need to apologize, while the downtown crowd shouldn’t stop apologizing.

    Wichita is GENERALLY a good place to raise a family. The Downtown crowd are doing their best to turn downtown into party central for the 21-33 year olds. Well, what are you doing for the PARENTS (product of all that partying)? I’ve lived in this psychologically unsound city since the early 1980’s and quit partying after 1985. I take it that the downtown crowd want to make sure I have a happy 5 years of partying, and then ignore me until I show up at the cemetery? As a taxpayer, I don’t approve.

    I also disagree with the downtown crowd on the issue of casino’s. Most of the U.S. has casino’s now, I think that jumping on the back end of a dying trend is a BAD idea for Wichita, for my tax dollars, and for my kid’s tax dollars. If you want to live in Las Vegas, then by all means, call Mayflower.

    We’re not second guessing the downtown decisions. We want the damn arena finished, put in somewhere to park, and then quit wasting our money. When you get back to telling ME to get the Mayflower, I plan on it, just as soon as I can afford to retire.


  8. BJ


    In your quote of Mr. Lutz in your post he never said we would land an NCAA Tournament bid, but instead we could bid on it. So I think your post concerning Mr. Lutz’s quote is misleading. I think you owe him an apology.

    Also, as pointed out earlier, the Ford Center in Oklahoma City opened in 2002, but did not land a bid until 2007. I would suggest you give the arena some time before declaring it a failure. It hasn’t even opened yet.

  9. craig

    Mike we could use a voice of reason like yours on Oct 13th when the City Council voted to approve a $500,000 for the design team for downtown development. Contact Bob he will get us together.

  10. Pat

    Mike, there’s plenty of parking already and I’d wish some would quit whining about it. The city and county should stay out of the parking issue altogether. Private market will address the cost of parking. Frankly, I don’t want to park next door to the arena as it would be beneficial to park a few blocks away in order to get out of downtown. Also, downtown development is not just about partying. Not too many years ago, the downtown commercial property accounted for almost 20% of the city’s tax base. Do you think it makes sense not to invest in downtown and just let it go to crap? Libertarians would tell you it’s fine, but I guess that’s why I’m not a Libertarian but a Republican.

  11. Mike

    Hi Pat, personally, I walked 3 blocks from the Library to the Chili cook off in front of the abandoned Spaghetti Wharehouse a few years ago. Not a problem for me. On the other hand, personal experience tells me that Wichitan’s will drive around looking for a a half hour looking for a close space at the mall at Xmas, when there are spaces 20 rows back.

    If you look at the Mayor’s plan to copy Downtown KC, the downtown plan is ALL ABOUT PARTYING. There was a link to the area of Downtown KC he wants to copy and it’s a bunch of bars, a few restaurants, and a couple of high dollar junk stores.

    Personally, I don’t care if downtown Wichita goes to crap. I’m extremely tired of buying things for the already wealthy developers. If the developers want to build something, fine, build it, but borrow the money or use your own. I’m 100% against using TIF to do anything anymore. That’s not just a Wichita problem either. If downtown Wichita is so [bleeping] important, then developers would be rushing to buy or lease the land down there to do something on their own.


  12. Mike

    Hi, found it in TIF Districts:

    Kansas City Power & Light District

    Check it out yourself. Drinking, eating, and a little shopping.



  13. Benjamin

    I hope the 1 cent sales tax increase bought enough dusters to dust off all the empty seats at the new arena. Bring your pocket change when you do go. You will need it for all the drunk and high bums that walk around downtown day and night.

    Mike, I agree with you mostly but we have become a service economy. People like to party and spend half their check doing it. Power and Light in KC has created alot of jobs in the public and private sectors. What does suck is sticking it to me when I go to buy essential items and some group of a++holes put a sales tax on me and call it democracy. It’s more like mob rule.

  14. Mike

    Hi Benjamin, I agree that we’ve become a service ecomony, but the sales of baseball equipment, basketball equipment, football equipment, and soccer equipment also drive revenue.

    The media and others are in a constant tizzy because we’re all too fat. In answer, our esteemed government makes us buy a new arena so we can pay large $ to set on our larger a$$e$, drink high calorie drinks, and eat high calorie food. We have enough places to eat in Wichita, we need to expand our sports / recreation opportunities that FAMILIES use instead of stupidly pandering to the entertainment industry. We’ll be better off in the long run.

    One of my over 30 nephews was playing Pee Wee baseball when they tore down the diamonds at Chisholm Creek part to put in the nature center. They promised to replace them within a few years. I love the nature center, but they’re a little late in replacing the ball fields. [Bleep] Downtown, lets take care of the rest of the place too.


  15. […] weren’t government officials (although some may have been involved). They put out a few other whoppers, too. It’s too bad that so many citizens believed […]

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