The cattle that once pounded across the Arkansas River didn’t look anything like the shiny chrome longhorns that have called the former Kansas Coliseum home for decades.
But supporters of the Delano neighborhood west of downtown Wichita think the Coliseum’s bull sculptures would be a fitting symbol for the end of the Chisholm Trail.
Sedgwick County staff is recommending that the bulls, created by artist John Kearney and given to the Coliseum in the late 70s, go to Delano now that the Coliseum’s arena has closed.
Maize South High School made a pitch for them earlier this year, saying the sculptures would be a good fit as mascots for the Mavericks.
James McDonald, the father of two students at Maize South, told commissioners in May that the school would restore the hulking creatures and move them at no cost to the county.
County staff said Tuesday that the cost to repair the two longhorns would be about $87,000. One is in such bad shape it can’t be moved without repairs first.
McDonald expressed disappointment Tuesday that staff is suggesting the bulls go to Delano. He said Maize South would be open to taking one and letting another entity such as Delano have the other.
Jim Martinson, co-president of the Historic Delano group, said it makes sense to commemorate the cattle trade by moving the bulls to the neighborhood.
“Delano was the end of the Chisholm Trail,” he said. “Longhorns built not only Delano but Wichita. Wichita wouldn’t even exist, and Delano was really the center of all of that activity.”
County manager William Buchanan said staff reached the same conclusion as Martinson because of Delano’s historic involvement in cattle drives. He also said more people would see the bulls if they were moved there.
Martinson said, “I would assume that they would go somewhere near the Douglas Street Bridge. The obvious first thought would be in Delano Park there where the rest of the monuments are.”The triangle-shaped park is at McLean and the Douglas Street Bridge.
As for the cost of maintaining and repairing the sculptures, Martinson said fund-raising would be an option.
Told of the $87,000 repair estimate, he said, “That’s a pretty big chunk of money for any of the Delano groups to come up with out of pocket.”
Commissioners say they will consider all options but probably don’t want to spend a lot of money restoring the sculptures because of the county’s tight budget.
“I’m going to be reluctant to spend taxpayer money on fixing up those bulls right now,” Commissioner Jim Skelton said.
Other board members said the same.
Commissioner Tim Norton said, “I don’t have any rub against Maize South and their desire to have them, but I like the idea of them being along the Chisholm Trail. There’s two of them.”
Maybe Maize South could get one and Delano the other, he said.