Two things immediately stood out to Bruce Rowley in 2014 when he moved his RSA Marketing to the entrance of the Commerce Street Art District at Commerce and Waterman.
Those are the words painted in big letters on the former Spaghetti Works building north of RSA and east of Intrust Bank Arena.
“It can’t forever be called the former Spaghetti Works building,” Rowley says he thought.
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So he began thinking about what to call that part of downtown in general.
Rowley came up with the Arena District.
“No matter how you feel about it,” Rowley says of the arena, “it’s the four square blocks of development that’s happening on all four sides of it right now.”
The district, as he sees it, is bounded by Douglas on the north side, Kellogg on the south, Washington to the east and Emporia to the west.
When people talk about that area, Rowley says they naturally say, “It’s down by the arena.”
Rowley isn’t looking for the Wichita City Council or anyone else to take a vote on the name.
“God, no,” he says. “It works way better if it’s organic.”
For instance, Rowley says the area that is known as Block 1, which is anchored by the Ambassador Hotel and the Kansas Leadership Center along Douglas and a couple of properties that are being redeveloped to the south, isn’t as organic of a name.
“How’s that working out?” he says. “It’s going to happen a lot better when you’ve got a lot of folks (using it) who have a stake in it.”
Rowley says he’s had this idea for some time. He says it’s been a sticky note on the side of RSA designer Ayu Gagnebin’s computer for months.
“She finally got tired of me asking her about it,” Rowley says.
She designed a logo that features a train for Union Station, a few tall buildings and part of the arena. It’s a monochromatic look with white lettering and a dark background.
“This is a very bootstrapping kind of area; we can’t afford color,” Rowley said, jokingly.
The logo also says “food, art, music” on the bottom of it to feature what’s available in the district.
Rowley says he hopes people will use the name and logo.
“I’m giving it to … anybody who has a desire to have it to promote something that’s happening in or around this area.”
He sent the logo to a number of people this week to see what they thought.
There were, of course, mixed reactions.
“I suppose it tells you where you’re at,” one person said.
Others used Facebook to express their likes and dislikes, including naming an area for an arena that not everyone wanted.
“Haters are gonna hate certain things,” says restaurateur Schane Gross, who put the logo on her Facebook page and got more than 100 comments.
“Some of them are just nitpicking the design itself,” she says.
Still others say how much they like aspects of it, such as the train.
Regardless of whether the name and logo take off, Gross knows how she feels about it.
“I think it’ll still make a cool T-shirt either way.”