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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Cattleman’s Ball returns along with criticism of its potential venue

WICHITA — The Cattleman’s Ball will be returning to the Wichita social scene with a new name and a bit of controversy, it seems.

The newly named Cattle Baron’s Ball is a fundraiser for the American Cancer Society.

A spokeswoman says the group “took some time off to re-invigorate” the event, which was last held in 2011.

The party has been held at various places through the years, and it looks as if the next one is going to be held at the equestrian arena of the Kansas Star Casino.

Wink Hartman Sr., who has the competing Hartman Arena in Park City, says he finds the situation “sickening.”

“The one organization that’s supposed to stand up for clean air is willing to look the other way and book events at an establishment that has smoking,” he says. “I just can’t believe what they’re doing.”

The casino has smoking, but the equestrian arena does not.

“The truth is they’re going to drag those people down there, and I find it hard to believe a percentage aren’t going to go into a casino filled with smoke due to the American Cancer Society’s invitation to go down there,” Hartman says.

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Kansas Star Casino working on reception

WICHITA — Visitors to the Kansas Star Casino have found it frustrating that their cell phones often don’t work while they’re there, but the casino is working to fix that.

While some casinos do scramble signals on purpose to prevent cheating, that’s not the case at the Kansas Star, says public relations manager Megan Strader.

“Two years ago, this was a field,” she says of the casino’s Mulvane site. “There isn’t an abundance of cell phone towers in this area.”

Even outdoors on the grounds of the casino, it can be tough to get a signal.

In addition, Strader says the casino’s building has “an immense amount of steel” for signals to penetrate.

She says the casino is looking at ways around the issue.

“It’s something we do want to work on,” she says.

“Trust me, it drives us crazy, too.”

Air Capital RV Park opens at 47th Street South and Emporia

Bill Morris with the sign he's installing at his new Air Capital RV Park.

WICHITA — Almost a year ago to the day, Bill Morris told Have You Heard? about his plans to bring the Air Capital RV Park to 47th Street South and Emporia.

It didn’t happen this spring as planned, but Morris recently received his certificate of operation and opened the park.

“We’ve still got things we’ll probably never finish doing,” Morris says. “There’s always something you want to add or do.”

Morris, a real estate developer who also was a mechanical contractor for 35 years, has owned and operated mobile home parks here in the past and an RV park in Texas.

He’s owned the land where the park is for more than two decades.

Morris says his park, which can accommodate 90 RVs, is entirely concrete and sod grass. He says that’s unusual for Wichita, which mainly has dirt and gravel parks.

Part of Morris’ inspiration for the park came from his own RV travels.

“From running all over the country and seeing what’s available,” he says.

He says improvements to the Kansas Turnpike exchange in that area also help make the timing right for the park, which is about a block off of the highway.

Morris says he’s been working with turnpike officials to take the top spot on a sign along the highway to attract guests.

He likes that the new Kansas Star Casino is just down the road in Mulvane, too.

When announcing Air Capital RV Park last year, Morris boldly declared, “It’ll be the nicest one in this part of the country.”

He thinks it lived up to his prediction.

“It turned out great”

Air Capital RV Park coming to Emporia and 47th Street South area

WICHITA — More than 20 years after buying land near the intersection of Emporia and 47th Street South, Bill Morris is ready to build on it.

He plans the Air Capital RV Park next spring.

“We’re going to go all concrete and sod grass,” Morris says. “There is no RV park in the city of Wichita that is built that way.”

Most of them are dirt and gravel, he says.

Morris will use concrete for the roads in the park and the pads on which the RVs sit. There will be 91 spaces.

Morris, a real estate developer who also was a mechanical contractor for 35 years, has owned and operated mobile home parks here in the past and an RV park in Texas.

“The timing is right,” he says of building the park now.

For one thing, he says improvements to the Kansas Turnpike interchange in that area are scheduled to be completed around the first of the year, so he hopes to have the park open by February or March.

“We’ll get a lot of people . . . off the turnpike.”

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