Trusting SMG At Intrust

Intrust Bank Arena inked a 10.5-year lease March 19 making the Central Hockey League’s Wichita Thunder the Kansas venue’s first tenant – but local officials want to see the fine print.

Financial details of the arrangement with the SMG-operated arena weren’t disclosed, raising some hackles with Sedgwick County officials concerned about “secrecy” surrounding the publicly funded building.

Commissioner Gwen Welshimer questioned the deal signed between the county and SMG in 2007, according to the Wichita Eagle. “It’s leaving us without being able to tell the public exactly what’s going on there, and it’s their arena,” she told the paper.

The $205 million arena was reportedly paid for with local sales tax revenue.

However, the confidentiality of such agreements isn’t uncommon. Under the deal, SMG has use of the Intrust Arena in exchange for assuming all day-to-day operations including management, staffing, utilities and maintenance expenses.

SMG is responsible for any losses and collects any profits up to $450,000. Sedgwick County receives profits beyond $450,000 and up to $900,000. Beyond that, SMG and the county split profits, with 60 percent going to the county, according to the Eagle.

County Commissioner Ted Norton supports the deal and told the paper that the relationship with SMG has to involve a degree of trust.

“We trusted SMG at the highest level to give them the contract,” he said. “Unless they prove themselves to be unworthy of running the facility, then we have to have some trust. … I think we have good reason to believe SMG has done a good job with a lot of centers.”