Bid to privatize Stryker delayed over association's concerns

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The Wichita City Council has delayed a decision to privatize Stryker Sports Complex.

A bid was presented by the Wichita Sports Forum’s management company to take over after the city paid millions to upgrade the facilities.

Organizers are hoping to add more tournaments and other games to the area. The Sports Forum would pay the City of Wichita more than $130,000 to lease the field at 2999 N. Greenwich for ten years. The Forum would maintain the facility, organize schedules and then keep the leftover profits from various events.

But the agreement has come under controversy, after leaders with the Sedgwick County Soccer Association, said they were completely ignored in the initial discussions.

“We were never brought to the table,” said Mark Ohm, President of the Sedgwick County Soccer association.”

Their ultimate fear is that the fields they play on in southwest Wichita will go unused. Ohm worries that by creating another major youth soccer league, the pool of players will be stretched too far and that his nonprofit business will go under.

“A group of teams that play here, a group of teams that play at Stryker,” he said. “By that division, I think both leagues will be successful.”

The Forum has looked to privatize Stryker in a planning process that took years. Under this agreement, the city would still own the property – the business would run all administrative tasks.

Management with the Forum don’t believe the move to create bigger facilities for a potential new league will harm anyone and also say that soccer is a small piece of a much bigger puzzle.

“Rugby, LaCrosse, drone chases, football soccer, you name it,” said Tymber Lee with the Wichita Sports Forum. “If it can be played on a turf atmosphere, absolutely.”

He said they’re hoping to replicate the success the Forum saw in northeast Wichita, where STAR bonds were used to create the current facility. He believes STAR bonds could also be used to generate new revenue with the Stryker facility as well.

The City Council decided to table a decision for a week while they can look into more details of the proposed bid.