Category Archives: Arenas

Hartman Arena lands cover of trade publication

WICHITA — Hartman Arena has landed on the cover of Facilities & Event Management, a trade publication for the venue business.

It’s not just any cover, says arena general manager Aran Rush. It’s the booking issue.

“This is huge,” Rush says. “The timing is everything.”

He says the biggest booking conference of the year is in Nashville in two weeks.

Rush says Iowa-based VenuWorks, which manages Hartman Arena, “has a really good relationship with” the publication.

The article delved into the arena’s five years in business and the Wichita market as well.

“Every market has their reputation,” Rush says.

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You don’t say

“It’s scary. It’s like caution, meet wind.”

Jared Estes on leaving a steady job at Hartman Arena to become a motivational speaker

Hartman Arena has a new general manager

UPDATED – James Snodgrass is out as the third general manager of the 5-year-old Hartman Arena, but he’s reluctant to discuss it.

“They still haven’t given me a reason why I was let go.”

Snodgrass, who was hired in spring 2011, won’t say more.

“I would like to take the high road on this one.”

Arena owner Wink Hartman Sr. says he didn’t make the decision alone.

“It was a group decision with VenuWorks, his employer, having the final decision,” Hartman says.

“It’s been our view all along that we were going to take a look and evaluate and … see if a change was necessary,” says John Siehl, regional vice president for VenuWorks.

He says the company decided “to bring in a person that we had picked so that we could improve the program and the operation.”

Aran Rush is the new general manager for Hartman Arena. Rush most recently was executive director for the Sioux City, Iowa, events facilities department, which included the convention and visitors bureau and the Tyson Events Center. Siehl says Rush is new to VenuWorks.

Hartman says if there are leadership issues at the arena, “I take full responsibility.”

He says he doesn’t think there have been problems with leadership, but he says the arena isn’t where it should be financially.

“The production of events at the arena can significantly increase, and hopefully it will,” Hartman says.

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You don’t say

“Hair and Botox are the two things that I haven’t been able to successfully transition to Tulsa.”

Sarah Haertl, formerly of Intrust Bank Arena, who now is director of marketing for Tulsa’s BOK Center and the Tulsa Convention Center but still returns to Wichita for salon services

Aerosmith appeared in Wichita but ‘Idol’ didn’t, despite what Steven Tyler says

WICHITA — Aerosmith front man and former “American Idol” judge Steven Tyler did an interview from Kansas City, Mo., today with the syndicated “Bobby Bones Show.”

“Do you travel so much that you forget where you are at times?” Bones asked.

“Absolutely, absolutely,” Tyler said before unintentionally going on to prove it.

“I was on the set the other night in … Wichita, Kansas,” Tyler said.

That part was true. Aerosmith played Intrust Bank Arena Sunday night.

“Just so happened ‘Idol’ was there,” Tyler said. He went on to explain that he called up his former “Idol” buddies Randy Jackson and Ryan Seacrest, who said they wanted to come to his show.

“Of course, I dragged them both out on stage, which was a hoot for me. That was my coup de grace, getting them both out on stage in my world and not on the set of ‘Idol’ was a grand finale for me.”

A grand finale it may have been, but it didn’t happen in Wichita. “Idol” was taping in Oklahoma City.

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Sarah Haertl to leave Intrust Bank Arena for BOK Center and Tulsa Convention Center

WICHITA — Sarah Haertl says there’s only one arena she would have left Intrust Bank Arena for, and now that’s what she’s doing.

“My original dream job was Intrust Bank Arena,” says Haertl, who has been the director of sales and marketing since October 2009, three months before the arena opened.

As of Sept. 10, Haertl will be the director of marketing for Tulsa’s BOK Center and the Tulsa Convention Center.

“It’s just a dream opportunity for me,” she says. “The BOK is just one of those special buildings that for whatever reason continues to exceed expectations.”

Haertl is married to Bruce Haertl, sports director for KWCH, Channel 12.

“At this point I plan to come back on weekends … and one night during the week and commute as well as we possibly can,” Sarah Haertl says. “I do not have this all figured out yet.”

The Haertls have two older children and two younger ones, and Sarah Haertl says they’re all right with her move.

“The 10-year-old is really excited because the BOK Center has a Justin Bieber date.”

You don’t say

“I was hoping to come out with some fog and a laser light show.”

Walter Berry, president of Berry Cos., speaking onstage at Intrust Bank Arena during Thursday’s chamber Chairman’s Lunch

City Council member Michael O’Donnell II takes job with Wink Hartman Sr.

WICHITA — Wichita City Council member Michael O’Donnell II has a new job.

After more than six years of working in sales for Clear Channel Radio, O’Donnell is going to work for Wink Hartman Sr. He’s done some past work for Hartman, but never full time.

“He’s spread so thin,” O’Donnell says. “He owns over 50 companies. I don’t know how he does it.”

O’Donnell will handle public relations, communications and government affairs for Hartman, which includes his Hartman Arena, restaurants and other companies.

“Everything,” O’Donnell says.

Although Hartman occasionally has a zoning issue that comes before the planning commission, O’Donnell says he’s not a regular in front of City Council, so he doesn’t expect a conflict of interest to arise.

“He never asks for any sort of incentives,” O’Donnell says. “Wink’s a do-it-yourself kind of guy.”

He adds, “If there ever was an issue … I would obviously recuse myself from that.”

Intrust Bank Arena assistant general manager takes GM job in Bakersfield, Calif.

WICHITA — Intrust Bank Arena assistant general manager Scott Neal – the longest-serving employee at the arena – is leaving to become general manager of Rabobank Arena, Theater & Convention Center in Bakersfield, Calif.

“It’s kind of the natural process within our company,” says A.J. Boleski, Intrust Bank Arena general manager.

Both arenas are SMG properties.

According to the Bakersfield Californian, the last Rabobank Arena general manager left in September amid a decline in bookings.

Intrust Bank Arena has had its own issues, including being $219,417 in the red through September.

Boleski says that has nothing to do with Neal’s departure.

“He’s done a phenomenal job.”

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Intrust Bank Arena proves to be a test kitchen for Carlos O’Kelly’s Mexican Cafe

WICHITA — Intrust Bank Arena has proven to be a good test kitchen for Carlos O’Kelly’s Mexican Cafe.

Jon Rolph says dishes prepared at his family’s chain of restaurants usually take about seven-to-10 minutes of prep time.

“When you’re at an arena, you’ve got to do it in about 20 seconds.”

That’s what led to the invention of the Baja Chicken Wrap.

“We played around with a bunch of different (dishes), and this rose to the top,” Rolph says.

“We were really surprised at how many people would be at the arena and then come in (our restaurants) and request it.”

So now, the wrap will be on the Carlos O’Kelly’s menu along with the cilantro lime rice that’s used to make it.

“I wouldn’t be surprised . . . if we don’t discover some new opportunities,” Rolph says of other menu items born at the arena.

The wide range of customers helps, he says.

“You get to see rockers, you get to see country music lovers and hockey moms all in one place throughout the year.”