Searching for the "crown jewel": a qualitative examination of the utilization of multi-use sports venues for downtown redevelopment in Wichita, KS
Multi-use sports venues, such as stadiums and arenas, have become an increasingly popular tool used in American cities to spur redevelopment in their downtown areas. These facilities are often promoted to communities as facilities that will generate economic growth within the city. However, previous research has revealed these claims to be largely overstated. Additionally, prior literature has also shown that sports facility developments are often promoted by the city’s growth machine to increase the wealth and power of its members without providing many benefits to the community. This study provides a qualitative analysis of the utilization of these venues as a catalyst for downtown development in Wichita, KS. Further, this study examines the existence and structure of a growth machine within the city of Wichita. This research presents a comparative case study of four different multi-use sports venue projects that have been conceived in Wichita since the early 1990s; The Wichita Ice Center, The Dynaplex, Intrust Bank Arena, and a new baseball stadium that is currently still in the development process. This study utilizes a content analysis of 643 articles from the city’s two main local newspapers; The Wichita Eagle and The Wichita Business Journal, to examine statements made by community members and potential members of the city’s growth machine regarding the development process of each facility. The findings of this research suggest that Wichita does have an active growth machine, whose members have varied over time, which has facilitated the potential development of three of the four projects in this study. The Wichita Ice Center is presented as an outlier that was initially sought and developed to fulfill a community need.