Chris Presson resigns from post as GM of Intrust Bank Arena

Bruce Haertl (left) of KWCH News talks to Chris Presson of SMG at the Media Open House for the Intrust Bank Arena in 2009

Bruce Haertl (left) of KWCH News talks to Chris Presson of SMG at the Media Open House for the Intrust Bank Arena in 2009

Chris Presson is resigning from his post as general manager of Intrust Bank Arena on May 7 because of “family reasons,” Sedgwick County and arena management company, SMG, announced this afternoon.

Presson said he made his decision last weekend after thinking about the priorities in his life and how he spends his time.

“I need to renew my energy and think about where I’ve been and where I’m going,” he said in an interview.

Presson, 44, is married and has three girls under age 10. He said he loves his job, but that it is very demanding.

“Opening a new arena is a very tough job and it takes a lot of time, energy and effort,” he said. “And it takes a toll on anyone.”

The abrupt departure comes almost two years after he was named general manager.

SMG will search for a replacement from within the company, according to a statement by Gary Desjardins, SMG general manager, Ford Center, and SMG regional oversight manager.

In an interview, Desjardins declined to discuss details about the resignation, saying that it is something that is “kind of private.”

“There’s not much more to read into it,” he said.

County Commissioner Gwen Welshimer said that she and other commissioners were “dumbfounded” when County Manager William Buchanan informed them about Presson’s resignation after an executive session today.

She said there was no indication that he would be leaving. “He’s done a good job so far,” she said. “He’s been responsive to our questions and so on.”

Welshimer said that some have pressed to get more detailed information on the arena’s financial books. “So there are things that haven’t been made clear to us,” she said. “But they did come and give us a report on the totals so far and those looked pretty good.”

Welshimer said that she hopes SMG will find a replacement soon, preferably someone local.

“I doubt seriously that the arena will suffer from the transition,” she said. “I think it will work itself out very well.”

Assistant County Manager Ron Holt said that Presson and Desjardins told him about the resignation in person this morning.  Holt said it caught him by surprise. Holt said they cited only “family reasons.”

“It’s their personnel, their issue and I respected it,” Holt said.

Holt said he is confident SMG will provide solid interim management and find an excellent replacement.

Presson will leave the arena in 10 days. He said that he feels that is enough notice because the arena has great employees.

He said he isn’t sure what he’ll do next. “I’m open to anything,” he said, noting that he wants to be involved in improving the community.

Presson, who was 42 when he was hired as the arena’s general manager, is the former general manager of the Wichita Thunder hockey team. He earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism and broadcasting at Oklahoma State University in 1992. He has worked as general manager for several professional hockey teams, including the Topeka Scarecrows, the New Haven, Conn., Knights and the Oklahoma City Blazers.