Expanded Wichita Sports Forum to replace GoodSports project

An artist’s drawing shows the planned look for the Wichita Sports Forum, which developers expect to build by the March 2016 deadline that GoodSports once had.
An artist’s drawing shows the planned look for the Wichita Sports Forum, which developers expect to build by the March 2016 deadline that GoodSports once had. Courtesy illustration

A new trio of developers, led by former Wichita State University baseball player Tymber Lee, plan to build the $14 million Wichita Sports Forum where GoodSports was planned at K-96 and Greenwich.

The 148,534-square-foot field house is double the size and price that Florida developer Jerald Good first proposed to the city several years ago.

“It’s almost one football field by two football fields big,” Lee said.

This spring, master developer Wichita Destination Developers and the city of Wichita ousted GoodSports Enterprises and its plans for a 65,000-square-foot field house and surrounding development for what they said was failure to meet deadlines and prove financial ability.

“When I saw this possibly going to default, I contacted the developers and said I could put together a team to do this,” said Lee, who owns the Lee Cos. and has been a commercial broker in Wichita for about 14 years.

His team includes John Wadsworth of Wichita’s Piping & Equipment and Scott McLain of the Arkansas-based McLain Group. Lee said the three have “just had a lot of experience in real estate all around.”

“Scott has developed and done casinos and hotels and big projects all over the country, and John is a very serious real estate investor,” Lee said. “And also all three of us are very big sports fans.”

The Sports Forum will have six basketball courts, 10 hard-court volleyball courts, six sand volleyball courts and one turf soccer field, all of which will be regulation size. It also will have a trampoline park.

“We have a model that is unbelievable,” said Lee, who said he has built others around the country.

There also will be batting cages, a full-size infield for baseball and softball, an indoor golf range and two full-size sand soccer fields.

“The key with this facility is going to be flexibility,” Lee said.

There will be mezzanine-level decks for spectators. Lee said an important question is “how comfortable are mom and dad?”

Late Wednesday afternoon, the new developers closed on their purchase of 10.7 acres from Wichita Destination Developers, the master developer.

“This is news to us,” said Anthony Homer, GoodSports’ vice president of development. “So I don’t think I have any other comment than that.”

Korb Maxwell, the attorney for the master developer, said Wichita Sports Forum “is the right team” to do the project, and he hopes that the GoodSports developers understand.

“It’s time to move on and allow the state of Kansas and the city of Wichita to get a field house built,” he said.

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.

“It’s really going to be an impressive facility,” Maxwell said of the Sports Forum.

“I feel very comfortable, and I’m happy with them,” said City Council member Pete Meitzner. “They’ve got their financing secured, permits are done. The project looks great.”

Lee said he expects work to begin at the site Thursday and to meet the original March 2016 deadline to get the field house built.

“It’s like with any sports team, it’s good team,” he said of what will allow that to happen.

That includes Ink Construction, Beran Concrete, Emprise Bank and Brad Haddock of Haddock Law Office.

“I can’t say enough about everybody,” Lee said. “All hands on deck has made it possible.”

Lee’s group will build the field house only. Maxwell said there’s much more development to come around the Sports Forum. He said Wichita Destination Developers is committed to complete the hotel.

Originally, GoodSports was going to build one.

Christian Ablah of Classic Real Estate said the entire development will be known as Greenwich Place.

“We’re going to have exciting new tenants to announce,” he said.

The Sports Forum name is a throwback to the Forum, a former downtown Wichita facility for sporting and other events.

“It was the place,” said Meitzner, who said he loves the name.

“It’s outstanding.”

Lee thinks the Sports Forum will be the place for kids and their families.

“Sports in general teaches you a lot about life and goal setting,” he said.

“We wanted to provide a good environment for kids to not only succeed in sports but just learn a lot about life skills. … Leadership. Character. Integrity. … That’s something that’s near and dear to our hearts.”

Lee said the Sports Forum will mean even more than that.

“I think it’s an important thing for the city, too.”

Reach Carrie Rengers at 316-268-6340 or crengers@wichitaeagle.com. Follow her on Twitter: @CarrieRengers.

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