Wichita attracts its share of musical acts, but there are still a lot of concerts it misses.
That's likely about to change with Wave, an indoor-outdoor concert and event venue that promoter Adam Hartke and a group of businessmen are planning along with a beer garden and food truck area near the northeast corner of Second and St. Francis.
Wave, which has a capacity for 3,300 people outside and another 500 indoors, is named in part for sound waves and light waves since multicolored projections will feature prominently in its design.
"It's going to be kind of a sensory experience," Hartke says.
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There will be what he calls an "industrial, futuristic" look with metal, concrete, wood and shipping containers.
"It's more of a 'Star Wars' meets 'Mad Max' type of venue."
Hartke says the beer garden, which will have craft beer mostly if not entirely from local breweries, features in the name as well with "a nod to Kansas with amber waves of grain."
There will be space for four food trucks, which can be there even when concerts aren't, along with barbecue from B&C Barbecue, lawn games and eventually a deck.
"I'd been thinking about an outdoor venue for years and years," Hartke says. "We've never had a legitimate outdoor venue."
Wave will have "a full-blown stage with rigging and lighting," says partner Dave Wells, who also is president of Key Construction. "This is the real deal."
Old Town developer Dave Burk, developer Jerry Jones and physician Pat Do also are partners along with a silent investor.
The venue will be on just over an acre where a parking lot is today next to the elevated train tracks. It's just north of the urban Rotary park, which offers some of the "tons" of parking Wells says is available in the area.
"I think it expands Old Town," Jones says.
He says Wave's presence could be seen as something bigger, too.
"There's almost an entertainment corridor taking shape," Jones says of St. Francis.
Wave will be the north-end anchor of the district, which Intrust Bank Arena anchors on the south end. There's also nearby Naftzger Park, the Loony Bin Comedy Club, the new Nortons Brewing Co. and Barleycorn's, a bar and smaller concert venue in which Hartke is a partner.
"You can make a loop almost and go to a lot of really cool places," Hartke says. "St. Francis is really kind of coming alive with everything that's happening on it."
'All of them'
As a music fan, Jones has driven to places such as Kansas City and Oklahoma City to see shows.
"I gave Adam a list of about 60 bands that I'd like to see that to my knowledge haven't played in Wichita," Jones says. "I said, 'How many of these do you think we can get?' And he said at 3,300 capacity, we should be able to get all of them."
Hartke says Wave's size will allow him to bring a lot of new acts to Wichita.
"It kind of fills a hole in the market, both on the outdoor and the indoor," Jones says.
Barleycorn's holds 240 and Crown Uptown can seat about 850.
"So the indoor (Wave) space is really kind of in that sweet spot where it's between the 240 and the 850, so if you have ... 300 people in there, it's going to feel really good," Hartke says. "But it also has the ability to ... pack it out and get 500 people in there."
Then there's the Cotillion, in which Hartke also is a partner, that holds 2,000.
He says that Wave's "3,300 capacity is great because it'll allow for us to get shows that we just can't do at the Cotillion."
That's in part because of the Cotillion's size but also its stage, which doesn't have the rigging capacity that Wave's will.
"We're building it really stout so we can do a lot of production," Hartke says. The Cotillion is "a little more limited in that aspect, so we have to pass on shows sometimes."
There's also Hartman Arena, which holds 6,500, and Intrust Bank Arena, which can hold 15,000.
"There's a lot of shows at Intrust that they'll scale down to half house or a third house that might be better suited for something like this," Hartke says.
He says there are a lot of agents who are the same for various acts.
"It's a pretty small world in this industry, so the more options that you can have, the better off you are," Hartke says.
Plus, like concertgoers, Hartke says a lot of acts prefer to play outdoors in the summer.
May to October will be the main outdoor season for Wave, but Hartke says, "With the way our weather's been, we'll be booking all year."
Jones says there will be overhead doors that can be rolled up or down to let breezes and music in.
"There will be a lot of indoor-outdoor flow to it."
Shows will be rain or shine, though Hartke jokes, "It'll be beautiful every time we have a show."
Welcome to Wichita
It's with a wry smile that Burk discusses the research that went into Wave.
"We had to travel to survey and make sure that we're doing the right thing," he says of going to concerts and beer gardens.
"We need to do some more of that," Wells adds.
Burk and his partners believe others will now travel to Wichita for shows.
"It's going to help the hotels — help everything," Burk says.
He says there will be synergy "since you're right next to Old Town Square."
Wells says when he's mentioned the venue to friends, they've expressed interest in renting it for banquets and other events.
"With Adam's experience, we know what should be done, and so we're doing it so it's done correctly," Burk says. "And it's going to be a great amenity to keep young people here and actually bring other people from Kansas City, Oklahoma City (and) Tulsa up here for shows."
Activity has started at the site with Key Construction installing fencing.
Key also built the new amphitheater in Andover that the city hopes will attract music fans.
Shelden Architecture is the architect for Wave, Meritrust Credit Union is providing the financing, and Big Mention conceived the name and branding.
Key will break ground on the venue next month, and it will be ready to open by late summer. There will be a kick-off party, likely around Labor Day.
And then Jones — along with others — may not have to travel to hear music so much anymore.
"I think we've got a good live music scene," he says, "and I think this will enable us to have a great live music scene in Wichita."