County revisits sale of Coliseum property

They tried once without much success, but it might be time to try again to sell the property that once housed the Kansas Coliseum north of Wichita, some Sedgwick County officials said Tuesday.

If the county wants to part with the property on North I-135 near 85th Street, it should hire a broker to market it for sale, Assistant County Manager Charlene Stevens recommended.

The county two years ago asked developers for ideas about what to do with the land, valued this year at $22 million. Three groups submitted ideas, and county staff recommended negotiating with one that wanted to build a mix of retail and entertainment there. Commissioners voted against doing so.

Britt Brown Arena, the county's longtime venue for concerts, sporting events and family activities, closed at the Coliseum complex in February 2010, shortly after Intrust Bank Arena opened downtown. Since then, the pavilions at the complex, now called the Kansas Pavilions, have remained open to events such as livestock, horse and dog shows and flea markets.

The site may be more marketable now, Stevens told commissioners, because there are no longer restrictions on some of the property. For years, part of the land was designated as habitat for a spotted skunk that never actually lived near the Coliseum complex. Federal law required the county to set aside land for the skunk, and the Coliseum was one of two sites identified. When the city last year gave the county land near Furley in the northeast part of the county, the county was able to designate some of that land as habitat, unencumbering the Coliseum land.

County Manager William Buchanan said commissioners must first decide, "Do we really want to sell it?"

"And if so, would the pavilions be included in the sale?"

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

"We have some process work to do internally before we can get to a decision point," Buchanan said.

Commissioner Dave Unruh agreed.

"It's a big decision, and we want to do it right," Unruh said.