When the weather begins to cool off in late fall and into the winter, it may be too cold for outdoor activities.
Luckily for you and any kids who may be contracting cabin fever, indoor sports are burgeoning in Wichita.
From professionals to young ones, the Wichita Sports Forum – and a few other indoor sports facilities in town – provide an outlet to burn energy.
The Wichita Sports Forum opened in December and is the only multisport indoor facility in Wichita that also includes a trampoline park.
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“The building sells itself once people come out here,” said Brian Hargrove, who was hired in August as the Sports Forum’s new general manager. Matt Baty, who was the former general manager, left to become associate athletics director for the Williams Education Fund, marketing and sales at the University of Kansas.
“You get them in for the sports, and obviously you’ll get a lot of them back for the trampoline park as well,” Hargrove said.
Aviate Extreme Air Sports, which operates in half of the Wichita Sports Forum building, is an entertainment option not only for kids but also for adults.
There’s nothing quite like getting major airtime and dunking a basketball through a hoop like you’re an NBA superstar or jumping into a large foam pit and gently sinking into the foam.
Aviate offers many specials – perhaps coolest of all is “Club Aviate” from 9 p.m. to midnight on Fridays and Saturdays. During “Club Aviate,” black lights are turned on in addition to glow lights and lasers. To get in, it’s $13 per hour or $20 for two hours. People have to be at least 15 to get into “Club Aviate.”
During “Club Aviate,” attendees can try out any of the Wichita Sports Forum’s sports courts as well for $5 per person. That includes basketball courts, sand volleyball courts, soccer fields and batting cages.
This sort of event is what makes the Wichita Sports Forum unique in the city, according to Shannon Boone, director of marketing and events at the facility.
“There’s really nothing like this facility anywhere in the country,” Boone said. “There’s a lot of multisport facilities, but a lot of them are for one single sport – it’s just hardwood or it’s just indoor turf. Of course, there’s trampoline parks across the country, but there’s nothing like this combined anywhere.”
Practice where the pros do
On a mid-August weekday, standout former KU basketball player – and native Wichitan – Perry Ellis came into the Wichita Sports Forum to practice his shots.
Hargrove said such sights are not entirely uncommon at the Sports Forum.
“(Detroit Tigers pitcher Mike) Pelfrey comes in and practices in the off-season,” he said. “He’ll come in and throw; sometimes he’ll do a little training.”
Earlier this summer, former Wichita State basketball player (and current Toronto Raptors prospect) Fred VanVleet was spotted practicing at the Sports Forum as well.
Sure, some professional athletes train there, but that doesn’t mean your youth volleyball team won’t fit right in.
As of August, about seven teams held regular practices at the Wichita Sports Forum.
“We have youth volleyball, basketball, soccer and, of course, our leagues,” Boone said. “The court space availability is a little bit limited. We do rent them by the hour, and you can reserve it.”
The Sports Forum also plans on bringing in various martial arts and boxing professionals to teach classes, according to Boone.
Recently, the Sports Forum hosted the 2016 International Women’s Flat Track Derby Association Playoffs – a first for the Forum. The Sports Forum is hoping to attract more large tournaments like that in the coming months as awareness of the Forum’s existence increases, Hargrove said.
“We have our ears open – we’re always looking to see what would be the best thing for the facility, whether that’s bringing in more tournaments to bringing in more people from out of the city to come see the building and put on top-caliber events,” Hargrove said. “Once people come out here and see everything we’ve got, including the trampoline park on top of all the sports facilities that we have, people will come back over and over again.”
Indoor sports facilities in Wichita
There are plenty of indoor sports facilities in Wichita to bring the kids to this fall. Here are some of the various options available.
Aviate Extreme Air Sports, 2668 N. Greenwich Court (inside the Wichita Sports Forum); www.wichitasportsforum.com; 316-201-1414
Get Air Wichita, 130 N. New York; www.getairwichita.com; 316-448-4313;
Urban Air Trampoline Park, 8545 W. Irving; www.urbanairtrampolinepark.com; 800-960-4778
Funtastics USA of Derby, 404 N. River, Derby; www.funtasticsusa.com; 316-789-8721
Wichita Sports Forum, 2668 N. Greenwich Court; facilities for basketball, volleyball, sand volleyball, soccer, baseball/softball; www.wichitasportsforum.com; 316-201-1414
Wichita Indoor Sports Facility, 1443 N. Ridge; facilities for soccer, lacrosse, dodgeball, kickball, baseball, flag football (training facility for FC Wichita); www.wichitaindoorsports.com; 316-252-1919
The Sports Zone, 9020 W. Harry; facilities for soccer; www.letsplaysoccer.com; 316-773-1500