Wichita's rowing teams are looking for a new home.
BG Products is giving Wichita State's crew team and the Wichita Rowing Association until Jan. 1 to move out of the boathouse on BG property on the Arkansas River.
"We're going to relocate," said WSU's Wade Robinson, vice president for campus life and university relations. "We think we'll come out of this stronger, where we're not nomadic. We're looking for a space we can commit to."
Since 2001, BG Products has housed the rowing teams at two locations on its property near Indianapolis and Wichita streets. Summer storms damaged a BG maintenance building. The company, which makes automotive tools, will move the department into the buildings occupied by the rowing teams.
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"At that time we had extra space," said Galen Myers, BG president. "Now we don't have that extra space. I'd love to see them stay here, but it's BG first."
WSU and the WRA are currently rowing out of two buildings with around 8,000 square feet. The buildings house between 40 and 50 shells used by WSU and the WRA, tools, repair equipment and workout equipment. The groups also need to store small launches and trailers.
"It needs to be kept in a safe place," said Jim Schmidt, president of the WRA. "We're not sure where that's going to be."
Robinson said WSU had been preparing for this possibility. He and coach Calvin Cupp are looking at six or seven sites along the Arkansas River for a permanent home. The Arkansas is preferable to the Little Arkansas because it is wider and straighter. WSU and the WRA are separate organizations which have often shared facilities in past years. Cupp said they will likely work together on a permanent home.
"Calvin's been looking for years," Robinson said. "We're looking at space that might have some existing structures. Or we're looking at some bare spaces where we could build. Everything is on the table."
Cupp coached 47 rowers during the fall. Schmidt said the WRA has 45 members.
"Because of the support of BG, we've been able to grow our programs," Cupp said. "Both of us are in a very good position right now. We want to build community rowing into something more than it is."
The Wichita Rowing Association is meeting today at the boathouse to discuss plans. The immediate goal is to find winter storage for the shells.
"We're going to formulate a game plan," said Brian Adamson, juniors coach for the WRA. "Two months in our world is a pretty short time."