What the city is doing different to bring, keep a Minor League team

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – There’s been a lot of talk about bringing a new baseball team to Wichita and it’s one with ties to Major League Baseball.

The current Wichita team, the Wingnuts, are independent.

But there have been major league farm teams in the past: the Wichita Wranglers dating back to 1989, the wichita pilots for a couple of years in the 80s, the Wichita Aeros starting in the 70s, and the Wichita Braves for a few years in the 50s.

Wichita has one of the oldest baseball facilities in the country.

Now they’re looking to the future and the game plan involves a new stadium and a new team.

“The good news we’ve talked to in the baseball community is the idea to make a stadium, not just 70 dates a year, but up to 200 or 250 dates a year of activity,” said Scot Rigby, assistant city manager for the city of Wichita.

But Wichita has seen minor league teams playing downtown before, including the most recent Wranglers.

They all ended up leaving.

Now, the city is taking a different approach with new incentives.

“I think the other thing that you’ve heard over the last six months is the vision of the mayor with the river corridor, with the talk about redoing the convention center, performing arts center, enhancing the riverfront,” said Rigby.

But the big difference this time is a major perk that wasn’t provided to the Wranglers.

“That’s easy! A new stadium,” said Bob Hanson, president and CEO of the Greater Wichita Area Sports Commission. “We would still have them here if we had a new stadium…I’ve done quite a bit of research around the country and Minor League Baseball is-most of those teams are very successful and most of them have great facilities.”

“We want people to feel that this is their backyard,” said Rigby. “So, if they’re coming downtown, walking around the riverfront, they can stop, view into the stadium, maybe have lunch looking over the stadium area.”

Rigby says the goal is to have a new stadium ready for the 2020 season.

Mayor Jeff Longwell said Thursday, an announcement on a new team could come in the near future.