City Council votes for Century II to go private

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WATCH LIVE | Wichita City Council meeting for Sept. 21, 2021

UPDATE: The Wichita City Council has voted 5-2 to have a private company, ASM Global, take over the management of Century II. Mayor Brandon Whipple and Councilmember Jeff Blubaugh are the two who voted against it. The debate over the issue lasted several hours before the Council voted.

RELATED LINK | Wichita CII Operating Agreement

STORY BELOW

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Tuesday may be the day the city stops managing Century II after more than 50 years.

“What’s in the contract?” asked Celeste Racette, Save Century II founder. “The city manager office scheduled them (city council) to approve a deal Tuesday?”

Racette is talking about details on a deal between the city and ASM Global Management to operate Century II.

“Tuesday is really important,” said Racette. “They’re going to vote once and only once on the private management contract.”

Racette says she had not been able to find in the contract where the public will be informed of who is maintaining the facility if a private contract is signed.

She is not alone. City council member Jared Cerullo is not ready to sign a five-year deal with ASM even though ASM Global already manages Intrust Bank Arena.

“I definitely think privatization is the right way to go,” said Cerullo. “I would be in agreement to possibly doing a one-year at a time deal. Five years is a long time.”

Cerullo says any contact needs to clearly spell out who maintains the facility and what happens with maintenance in general.

“Ah, the city has proved over the last 10 to 20 years that it shouldn’t be running Century II,” said Cerullo. “It is starting to fall apart. We’ve been deferring maintenance on Century II for way too long.”

KSN News reached out to the local manager of Intrust Bank Arena. KSN also reached out to ASM Global for a comment on the possible contract vote on Tuesday scheduled for the city council meeting.

So far, KSN has not heard back.

Some other council members say they may not be ready for a vote just yet.

“We don’t know what the future looks like,” said council member Jeff Blubaugh. “A five-year commitment? I don’t know that I’m ready for that,” said Blubaugh. “I’d actually rather start it out on an annual renewal just because there are so many things that are in flux right now.”

Racette says the city should start an advisory council for Century II to get answers to the public.

“We start a citizens advisory committee to oversee historic tax credits,” said Racette. “It would be good to get more transparency out before a big vote like this.”

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