Starting Monday, Wichita-area radio listeners will be hearing about Bill Warren’s efforts to “save Century II,” the iconic round building that has served as the city’s convention and performing arts center since 1969.
The spot will run on five Wichita-area radio stations in the next three weeks, Warren said Monday.
Warren, the businessman and developer known for the movie theaters he built, said he wouldn’t be using the ad campaign if he didn’t think Century II could very well be torn down, “based on what they have told me, meaning city officials that told me privately.” Warren declined to say which officials.
Wichita Mayor Jeff Longwell and City Manager Robert Layton have said that the city is still gathering information for Century II options to eventually present to the public. They say it is way too early to know what course the city will take.
The ad to “save Century II” begins: “For nearly half a century, its distinctive blue dome has been a landmark on the Wichita skyline. … Designed by apprentices of Frank Lloyd Wright, its historic significance will soon qualify for the National Register of Historic Places.
“Yet some want to demolish Century II and start over,” the radio spot continues.
The ad also frames the issue in terms of cost to the city’s cultural history and to taxpayers – “on the hook for the estimated $300 million more it will take to replace Century II than to remodel Century II.”
The ad ends by saying that it is “Paid for by Bill Warren and the Committee to Save Century II.”
“I’m funding this myself, just because I feel so strongly about it,” Warren told The Eagle. “It’s not cheap.”