Open house shows off revamped Kansas Pavilions

Aidan Adamson stood in line Saturday to ride a horse at the Kansas Pavilions, but it wasn't his first time.

He wanted to be clear that he has taken horse rides before.

He even once rode a camel that burped.

Aidan, 8, and his friend Dalton Manning, 9, enjoyed a community open house at the rebranded pavilions, formerly part of the Kansas Coliseum complex on I-135 at 85th Street North.

Several hundred people stopped by for horse rides, K-9 search and rescue demonstrations, dog agility trials and performances by some goofy fire prevention clowns.

Candy Adamson, Aidan's mom, said she wanted to see the improvements Sedgwick County has made at the pavilions.

"We used to come out for flea markets and concerts," the El Dorado resident said.

One of the family's favorite activities was visiting circus animals before performances.

The county has committed to keeping the pavilions open through at least 2016.

"I think it's good for the community," Adamson said. "Especially for the equestrians."

The county spent $4 million on renovations in 2007 and continues to make improvements. Next on the project list is a new shower house and resurfacing of one of the parking lots.

Sam Fulco Pavilion, formerly called Pavilion No. 1, has been spruced up with a new roof and insulation, remodeled restrooms, new paint, a redesigned cafeteria, and mechanical, electrical and ventilation upgrades. That's also true for Pavilion No. 2 and the arena building.

The county also built an outdoor exercise arena between the arena building and Pavilion No. 2 and made repairs and resurfaced parking lots B and B1. Parking lot C will be repaired this spring.

The county has changed the Kansas Coliseum sign on I-135 to reflect the name change to the Kansas Pavilions. Entrance gates also are being changed a bit to get people to the pavilions more directly.

The county has paid for improvements with money raised by the 1 percent arena sales tax that voters approved and was collected for 30 months.

The county closed Britt Brown Arena, which did not comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act, last year. The complex has struggled to be financially sound.

Unaudited figures for 2010 show a subsidy by the county of $531,007, assistant county manager Ron Holt said.

The county in 2009 asked several developers to submit proposals for the complex but ultimately did not open negotiations with any of them.

Sharon and Chester Chesmore of Derby joined friend Susan Erwin of Wichita for the open house Saturday.

"We used to come up here for a bluegrass festival," Sharon Chesmore said. "It looks better. You can tell they've done some work on it."

Enjoying the show by members of the Sedgwick County Fire Department's fire prevention clowns, she said that Pavilion No. 2 used to be "cavernous and chilly."

Erwin got up and danced with the clowns.

She and Sharon Chesmore also took advantage of the horse rides.

"I was so pleased because it's always just for children," Sharon Chesmore said.