(WICHITA, KS) - An Open Tryout on October 29th will mark the beginning of the fifth season since the reincarnation of the Wings, the most iconic brand in Wichita sports history. Team ownership believes they ended the previous year with momentum and have now spent the entire offseason eyeing the potential for franchise growth and future league promotion.
Wichita Wings managing partner Blake Shumaker says it's directors needed to step away after the season and evaluate if a plan of applying for league promotion into the top division of professional indoor soccer in North America (MASL) would be feasible. Currently the Wings are a member of the MASL pyramid, but competing in what is known as the second division ("MASL2") of six relevant indoor soccer leagues. Wichita consistently reports an average attendance that ranks among the top 5 operating franchises across all of those leagues.
"It's been amazing to be part of bringing the Wings back, but we have to be diligent here," said Shumaker.
"Sure we are passionate about renewing a 40 year old rivalry with the Kansas City Comets, St. Louis Ambush and Dallas Sidekicks of the world, but this next step is a whole other animal. Our main objective has been and will continue to be sustainability. We're constantly measuring our growth and we are excited to hear from the fans at this point."
On October 25, 2019, Wichita returned to the indoor soccer scene with a bang. Large crowds and veteran players created an amazing culture inside Hartman Arena prior to the 2019-2020 league season being shut down prematurely in March 2020 during the covid-19 pandemic, just before the league championship, forcing the Wings ultimately to finish second place in overall points behind the Chihuahua Savage who were crowned champions.
Despite the difficulties of operating during the pandemic, club leadership did not allow the team to go dark. Instead, Wichita was recognized among a small group of owners who continued to operate in the nearly 24 months of heavily restricted arena sports climate.
The 2021 season was played mostly without fans allowed in attendance and would conclude in the summer of '21 with a loss to the Cleveland Crunch, in what was the Wings first ever trip to a league championship game in its 42-year history.
The following season showed undeniable signs of market recovery as Wings fans began to come back in numbers, seeing the attendance rise game-after-game. Although the Wings would eventually be eliminated from the playoffs after losing at home in the quarterfinals, ownership was optimistic that 2022-2023 would continue to trend upwards.
On August 11, 2022, Wings management requested, and was provided by the MASL, a list of the necessary requirements that would be needed to consider moving the franchise into the MASL 1st division. It was determined internally that Wings ownership could be able to meet all ownership standards as well as the day-to-day operating needs. However, with the season looming, the Wings management group decided to table the conversation until after the 2023 season. The Wings made it into the North American Semi-Finals where they once again lost to the Chihuahua Savage, the eventual Champions.
Although the end result wasn't what the team wanted, the organization achieved exactly what it set out to accomplish by providing an exciting brand of family entertainment the Wings are historically known for. There was significant growth in attendance and first-time fan engagement was up to it's highest percentage in 5 years.
All of this brought current ownership and a few potential new investors together for a meeting in Wichita on July 8, 2023. The ownership voted in favor of moving forward, but only with a public discovery phase which would gather direct feedback from local soccer supporters and sponsors.
"The group unanimously felt it's now crucial to have deeper discovery, and we agreed no decisions will be made without input from Wings supporters", says Shumaker. "A lot has happened this offseason from new player signings to the sale of Hartman Arena. With the Arena being sold recently we were able to obtain a new lease, which can quickly add 4 more ticketed home games in our 2023-2024 MASL2 campaign alone."
A league promotion would mean an additional 4 home games and the potential for the home-and-home playoff series. Wings management has opened a survey which they will respond to after 1000 supporters have completed the survey and is encouraging interested parties to take the survey immediately.
WINGS SUPPORTER SURVEY I HELP US IN OUR DISCOVERY
MASL2 NATIONAL PLAYOFF BID PROCESS
The Wichita Wings, with the support of Hartman Arena and The City of Park City, submitted a bid to host the 2024 National Finals in Park City, KS on July 15, 2023. Included in the bid was the introduction of a new playoff format which would be bring together the final 8 teams in one location for single elimination Quarter-Finals, Semi-Finals and a National Championship game. The city who wins the bid will receive passage into the final 8, a process familiar to soccer fans in events such as the World Cup. The Wings are among the 3 remaining bidders which include Chihuahua, Mexico, and St. Louis, Missouri. The MASL2 Ownership Board will cast votes on August 8, 2023.
WICHITA WINGS OPEN TRYOUTS - 2023-2024 SEASON
- October 29, 2023 / Check-in opens at 9:00 a.m. CST / Tryouts & Evaluation begin at 10:00 a.m. CST
- Location: Hartman Arena - 8151 N. Hartman Dr, Park City, KS 67147
- Fee: $30 registration through September 15th; $50 after September 16th.
- Registration is not complete until payment is received.
- All players MUST register online
WICHITA WINGS ANGELS DANCE TEAM REGISTRATION - 2023-2024 SEASON