Monday, May 13, 2013
The National Baseball Congress World Series has been played in Wichita for the last 78 years.
The city which owns the tournament and the Wichita Wingnuts who manage it, both say the tournament is in trouble. They both say the tournament isn't turning a profit.
The city manager tells us they realized the problems when a few teams and vendors who were part of the NBC tournament in 2011 complained they were paid late. He asked for an audit last year and found out for the last two years the tournament has basically broken even.
Josh Robertson has played in, coached for, and now manages the National Baseball Congress World Series.
“NBC is in my heart, I have a lot of history with it,” Wichita Wingnuts General Manager Josh Robertson said.
That's why he says it's so frustrating to see the tournament struggling.
"I've seen the attendance for the NBC tournament slowly decline,” Robertson said.
He says one reason for the drop in attendance: the tournament used to draw teams from far and wide but now most teams can't afford the trip.
“People want to come see those Alaska teams and so on and so forth but if they can't afford to come, they can't afford to come,” Robertson said.
The Wingnuts and their owners manage the tournament but the city owns it. Now, the two groups are ready to work together to restore the tournament back to what it once was.
"We all want to see it thrive, do really well. We'd like to see a lot of revenue generated but most of all we want to see strong support for a legacy tournament that we have here,” City Manager Robert Layton said.
The city manager says it's a two step process. The first step was addressing the financial problems. The next step is to get more teams to make the trip to Wichita and hopefully attract more fans.
"There definitely needs to be some changes. There needs to be some changes made that make it more affordable for these teams to come town or increase the prize money,” Robertson said.
Another issue that came up in the audit, the city manager says the Wingnuts owe the city about $66,000 in back lease payments which he says the team's owners have committed to paying off by the end of this year. They also owe about $72,000 on their water bill but the Wingnuts' general manager says they're still investigating those charges after their bill jumped up about $40,000 last year. He believes the stadium might have some kind of major water leak that was caused by recent renovations.