Over-River Arena Rejected

A proposal to build an arena over the Arkansas River in Wichita, Kan., was rejected by a group of city leaders January 17th who said the plan is too costly and time-consuming.

A gathering of government and business representatives listened to the proposal by former Sedgewick County Commissioner Dave Bayouth, then a report from a group of arena design experts, before deciding against further study, according to The Wichita Eagle.

Bayouth reportedly called the group “a kangaroo court” that had already made up its mind.

“This is not exactly what I call a fair and impartial hearing, or study,” Bayouth told the paper. “They have no vision. They still don’t understand the dynamics of this thing, that it’s that great.”

The arena proposal is ambitious. The presentation revealed several unique details to the arena design, including building a foundation above the water that would be equivalent in size to a 42-lane bridge at a cost of $50 million, the Eagle said. A 100-foot-tall building would go on top of it to the tune of an extra $50 million.

Escalators and elevators would need to rise 50 feet to the first concourse level and 25 to 30 feet to the event floor for trucks and freight, the paper said. A nearby boulevard would have to be rerouted, too. Plus, government approval is required for further design work related to the waterway.

Bayouth previously estimated an additional $18.4 million would be needed for his proposal, but hadn’t presented any studies to back up the numbers at the time.

County officials have already given the green light to a proposal for a $185 million arena in the eastern part of downtown Wichita, but agreed to consider Bayouth’s proposal. The plan isn’t dead though, and may be revisited after officials discuss a report from arena experts, according to the Eagle.

Commission chairman Ben Scortino told the paper that while Bayouth’s plan is innovative and creative, the public probably wouldn’t go for its heftier price tag.

Drawbacks to the plan pointed out by arena experts include difficult access to the arena over the river, a parking shortage and limited space to add new parking, the paper said.