The downtown Wichita Ice Center will be getting a health club.
The Wichita City Council has approved a deal for Genesis Health Clubs to build and operate a workout facility on the second floor of the city-owned Ice Center, 505 W. Maple.
A consultant for the project said Genesis will not give its club members discounts to use the Ice Center facility.
Greg Ferris, a former City Council member, said offering a discount to Genesis members would threaten the Ice Center’s tax-exempt status as a city facility.
“We are simply a manager, managing your facilities,” Ferris told the council.
The plan calls for the city to float a bond to borrow $750,000 to remodel the second floor of the Ice Center into a health club. Genesis will pay off the bond debt, provide the exercise equipment and manage the facility for the city.
As its management fee, Genesis will keep 95 percent of the receipts from monthly passes and 80 percent of receipts from day-use fees from the health club part of the operation.
The city now pays Genesis a flat fee of $42,000 a year to manage the skating operation. Under the new agreement, that will gradually rise to $55,000 if the contract is extended to the full 15 years.
Genesis owner Rodney Steven II said that in the five months his company has managed the facility for the city, it has made about $100,000 more than it was making at this time last year.
However, representatives of youth hockey and figure skating questioned the health club plan, saying it could limit opportunities for regional or national competitions.
“You can work out in your home, you can work out at one of the many YMCAs in town, one of the many Genesis clubs in town,” said Jolene Taylor, representing the Wichita Figure Skating Club. “There’s only one place you can go for figure skating, hockey and recreational skating and that’s the Wichita Ice Center.”
“This (ice center) was built for the kids,” said Joyce Mercer, past president of Wichita Youth Hockey. “Kids on ice stay out of hot water. ... We don’t want it taken away from the kids.”
Steven said there’s no reason for concern because he wants to host major competitions and the exercise facility will be built with glass partition walls and equipment that can be moved to accommodate special events.
“We will clear that ... out in a matter of minutes,” he said.
The council approved the contract but instructed City Manager Robert Layton to add language before final approval to clarify that the Ice Center should be made available for large competition events.
Steven indicated he had no problem with that.