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City of Wichita pondering change to Ice Center management

The city said one of the main reasons for the change is they were looking for someone with...
The city said one of the main reasons for the change is they were looking for someone with experience managing ice rinks and associated programs to handle the oversight for the Wichita Ice Center(kwch)
Published: Jan. 16, 2022 at 10:04 PM CST
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - At the end of the month, the contract the City of Wichita has for the management of the Wichita Ice Center expires and a plan before city council Tuesday would bring in new oversight.

“It’s almost something coming to fruition for me,” said John Ford, who supports the new management contract for the Wichita Ice Center.

The contract before the council would give management of the Ice Center to Rink Management Service Corporation. It details the city would pay RMSC $6,500 a month to manage the city-owned rink. The contract is for five years.

The city, under their current contract - expiring Jan. 24 - pays Genesis Health Clubs $55,000 a year for management, about $4,600 a month. Genesis Health Clubs has covered the Ice Center’s management for the last 10 years.

In the proposed contract, the city would also pay for repairs exceeding $5,000, any below would fall under RMSC’s responsibility.

The city said one of the main reasons for the change is they were looking for someone with experience managing ice rinks and associated programs to handle the oversight for the Wichita Ice Center, and the company they’re looking to select is the same one that had that role before Genesis Health Clubs took over in 2011.

Ford said, “They know how to run the rink in terms of maintenance and just facility organization, but they also have really good experience and good reputation with growing programs.”

Ford has been a regular at the Ice Center since 2008, where he goes to play hockey and referee games.

“Found out that they had an ice center here in Wichita, Kansas, which is kind of shocking, I was actually introduced to ice hockey, so from then on, I’ve just been involved with just about as much as I can,” he said.

In 2020, he created an online petition calling for the city to look at new management for the Ice Center, citing issues with the facility’s upkeep and making it harder to participate in their activities.

Ford said, “The facility is just run down. We’ve lost a Zamboni. The scoreboards are if not dying, on their last leg.”

He’s among a group of stakeholders - people who are part of associations and organizations that use the ice rink - that have been working to see some improvements to the more than 25-year-old center. Ford was among those to evaluate the two proposals that were presented for the management of the Ice Center, recommending the contract with RMSC.

“Get a chance to start off fresh again and I’m hoping with the new management company that they put in the effort that they’ve said they would,” he said.

At the Board of Park Commissioners meeting on Jan. 10, the Parks and Recreation Director went over the contract. He said RMSC and Genesis Health Clubs were the two companies to submit management proposals.

The Parks Director said while Genesis did make an appealing proposal, which included more investment into the facility, RMSC would be the best fit for the Ice Center.

There remain some details to be worked out, including what will happen to the fitness and health club portion of the Ice Center and developing a capital improvement plan, but part of the contract does include regular meetings between RMSC and stakeholders.

Ford said, “Get one thing out of it, I hope the communication lines are better to the point that they are more receptive to what we need and want.”

The Parks Director said, if the new contract is passed by the council, they’ll work to make the transition of management seamless with minimal impact on programming.

We reached out to Genesis Health Clubs for this story and will update the information when we hear back.

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