(WICHITA, KS) - April will mark the end of the fourth season since the reincarnation of Wichita Wings soccer, a team commonly referred to as Wichita's most beloved sports franchise. Team ownership believes they've ended this year with a keen eye on the potential for future league promotion.
Wings managing partner Blake Shumaker says the team is currently evaluating a move to the MASL, the top division of professional indoor soccer in North America. Currently the Wings are a member of the MASL pyramid, competing in what is known as the second division of six relevant indoor soccer leagues, where Wichita reports an average attendance that ranks among the top operating franchises across all leagues.
"It's been amazing to be part of bringing the Wings back," said Shumaker. "We have to be diligent here, sure we want to renew our 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 sustainability and steady growth in order to achieve longevity for the city. Along the way we have faced unprecedented challenges during covid-19 but were able to weather that storm and arguably come out of it stronger. This conversation about the potential for league promotion is certainly one that needs to be had sooner than later, so we intend to explore all our options during our meetings."
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 while slowly showing attendance progressions game-to-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 and base all further discussions on a new set of 2023 season goals.
In the current season the organization has achieved exactly what it set out to accomplish by providing an exciting brand of family entertainment the Wings are historically known for, while seeing growth in attendance and first-time fan engagement. All of this brings current ownership and potential new investors together in April for the most important meeting since 2019 - one that could make the Wings Wichita's only top division professional sports team.
The Wings are set to finish their 2023 home schedule Saturday March 11th against the New Mexico Runners, with only 4 games remaining in the 2023 playoff push. The Wings control their own destiny, should they win out, they would earn the only available wildcard birth.
Tickets are on sale now at the Hartman Arena box office.