Unlike delay after delay with the GoodSports field house, its replacement – the Wichita Sports Forum – is moving quickly.
The facility’s developers have named Matt Baty general manager and are on track to potentially open a couple of months early.
“We would love for this facility to open prior to Christmas,” says managing member Tymber Lee.
Lee is developing the $14 million, 148,534-square-foot field house with John Wadsworth of Wichita’s Piping & Equipment and Scott McLain of the Arkansas-based McLain Group along with the city and master developer Wichita Destination Developers.
Though he most recently has been a vice president with Equity Bank, Baty has an extensive background in sports administration.
“Matt has deep roots in Wichita,” Lee says. “When John and Scott and I took on this project, he was absolutely the first one that came to mind.”
Baty has a degree in sports administration from the University of Kansas and was an administrative intern for the Big 12 Conference. He’s also been a marketing coordinator for his alma mater and an assistant athletic director of development for Wichita State University.
“I understand what it takes to run a facility of this caliber,” Baty says. “Having that experience on that big stage, it allows me to really drill down to this level of things.”
Baty says it’s “been my passion all my life to do this.”
In fact, he says he did his first business plan for a sports complex while he was in high school and refined it in college.
Baty says he was in the process of putting together financing for his own plan about four years ago when he first heard of GoodSports.
“So I kind of pulled out of my idea just because I didn’t think I could compete at that point with some big project.”
Baty says he likes the Sports Forum plan and thinks he fits well with it.
“We want to be the facility to bring in large national and regional-type events,” he says.
The Sports Forum will have six basketball courts, 10 hard-court volleyball courts, six sand volleyball courts, two sand soccer fields and one turf soccer field, all of which will be regulation size. There also will be an indoor golf range, batting cages, a full-size infield and a trampoline park.
Baty says the facility won’t be limited to those sports. Also, he says he hopes to attract such large events that he’ll have to enlist other local facilities and the city for help.
The Sports Forum will receive a portion of the $122 million sales tax and revenue bonds that are going to improve the area, including the new K-96 interchange, as GoodSports would have had.
The bonds dictate that the facility open by March 1, but Lee says at the very least the 20,000-square-foot trampoline park should be open by the end of the year.
Lee credits Arkansas-based Nielsen Architecture with creating a plan for the facility that’s allowing it to rapidly progress.
Baty is now scheduling events for 2016.
“He’ll be working on 2017 … when we open,” Lee says.
“In my opinion, there’s not a better, more qualified person in the … Midwest … to make this facility a huge success.”