Thursday, November 2, 2017

Wichita Wings: the Hollywood blockbuster - Part I

We're not hiring Hollywood stars to make a fictional version of the 1980s Wings story. But what if we were?

Roy Turner would be portrayed by...

the English actor Dominic West (from HBO's The Wire)

 Kim Roentved portrayed by... 

Game of Thrones star Kit Harington

General Manager Bill Kentling portrayed by... 

Hangover star Zach Galifianakis

Star forward Andy Chapman portrayed by... 

Hawaii Five-0's Scott Caan

To be continued...

Saturday, October 21, 2017

What my book looks like

This is the copy of "Make This Town Book" I obtained when we agreed to take on this Wichita Wings documentary project. I hope the co-authors aren't too upset with me. It's been dog-eared to death, with coffee stains and placeholders all over the pages.
Really, they should take that as a compliment. This book is a blueprint for the documentary, after all. This is proof that I've not only read it, but I've studied it for scenes.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

A Milestone: 600

Of all the people that attended Wings games in the '80s, how many are still interested in the Wings? How many are readers? How many have the disposable income to buy a big fat book? How many will hear about its publication? All these questions were unknowable a couple years ago. Needless to say, I am pleasantly surprised to have just sold our 600th copy of Make This Town Big: The Story of Roy Turner and the Wichita Wings.

It makes me wonder how many people will see our film upon completion. A lot more people watch movies than read books, so the film is bound to be more popular. We do not yet know how the film will be distributed (hey, ESPN's 30 for YOU doin'?) Regardless of where it ends up, it's reasonable to assume more people will watch the documentary film than read the book. Since we are evangelists for the Wings, our utmost desire is to spread the indoor soccer gospel far and wide. All I know is that as the producer of the film, I have seen most of the footage we have shot so far. Let me tell you folks, you will not be disappointed in the final product. I promise you that it will do justice to the memory of the Wings and what they meant to Wichita. It will show the rich history of the team, but it's not just a history. It will make you laugh (in a good way!) and it might even make you cry. Am I overselling it? I hope not!

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Our mini-flyers

Here are the mini-flyers that co-director Kenny Linn and I had last weekend at the Austin Revolution Film Festival, where our previous documentary "Out Here In Kansas" was incredibly well received.
We also passed these out at our event at Aero Plains Brewery a couple of weeks ago (although we hadn't put the stickers on them yet). I'm pleased to say that I gave out the very first flyer to Wichita Wings legend Kim Roentved, who drove down from Kansas City for the festivities.
If you'd like some flyers of your own, just let us know.

Monday, September 25, 2017

The future of Wichita pro soccer

From 1979 to 2001, pro soccer in Wichita meant "The Wings." After a 10 year absence, the return of the Wings heralded new beginnings for professional soccer in Wichita. The four years of the new Wings and the B52s whet the appetite of soccer fans in this town. The 2011-12 season yielded several sellouts of Hartman Arena. Talented players from around the US, and several from Brazil, gave old Wings fans something to celebrate. It seemed that pro soccer might be back for the long haul. As we know, it didn't last. The Wings and their successor team, the B52s, were gone by 2015.

But thanks to Blake Shumaker and other investors, our city gained a new team in the form of FC Wichita. Though this team has thrilled its fans with excellent play on the field, it plays in the NPSL, which is a league composed mainly of amateur college players. Recent news that the city of Wichita will be constructing a new dual-use stadium to replace the venerable Lawrence-Dumont ballpark has the potential to change the soccer landscape in this town. The USL has expressed interest in bringing Wichita into its new Division III league that targets cities between 150,000 and 1,000,000 people.

The USL requires that owners have $10 million in assets. That is certainly a wise decision on their part. Consider this: the Wichita Wings never made a profit in their 22 years of existence. What made the Wings work, in a financial sense, was that prominent local businessmen saw the team a point of Wichita pride. They were willing to continue to lose money as long as the people of Wichita were willing to come out to see them play. The diminished salaries of modern indoor soccer put profitability within reach for a new team. But make no mistake, professional soccer in Wichita is not a business one should enter in order to make money.

What to do? Wichita is underserved when it comes to professional sports. An affiliated baseball team and a professional USL team would go a long way to help that problem. But where does indoor soccer fit in? In Cedar Rapids, the Rampage compete in the Major Arena Soccer League and also field an amateur outdoor team in the summer. That model could work for Wichita; a USL franchise coupled with an indoor team. Players could live and play here year round. One management team could run both franchises. We already know that FC Wichita wants to grow into a professional team. Soccer fans could spend their winters at Hartman (or maybe even Intrust Arena) and their summers on Roy Turner Field in Delano. I believe that an outdoor team needs the Wings brand to help build success. The 2011 Wings managed to sellout Hartman Arena several times with very little marketing. The Wings name helped make that happen.

The backers for this already exist here in Wichita. Our community has a multitude of wealthy businessmen who could afford to make this a reality. But they would need support from the fans. Numerous season tickets would need to be sold. Perhaps most importantly, the right management team would need to be found that would guide these franchises forward. The Wings had Roy Turner and Bill Kentling. These new teams would need a similar duo who could promote and manage these clubs with skill and efficiency. When the Wings returned in 2011, the team missed an opportunity to promote individual players in the way that the old Wings did in the 1980s. Sure, none of those guys were Chico Borja, but they had legitimate talent on those teams. People want to connect with individual players and follow their progress. Kids want posters in their bedroom. The fans in Wichita deserve quality professional soccer. But those regular folks, and the business community that serves them, need to show that they will spend the money to make this happen.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Chico Beer-ja party details

By now you may have learned that the new brew honoring the 1980s Wichita Wings will be called "Chico Beer-ja." It made us laugh the first time co-director Kenny Linn suggested it. It is, of course, named after Chico Borja, one of the most popular players in Wings history, who gave us his blessing.
And hopefully, by now you know that beer will make its debut 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 15 at Aero Plains Brewing, 117  N. Handley Street in Delano. The Chico Beer-ja Premiere Party will last until 9 p.m. or so.
More details ...
* We will be premiering a two-minute trailer for our documentary about the 1980s Wings, which will include all 16 people we've interviewed so far.
* There will a food truck there. It's called Funky Monkey Munchies, and they're known best for their Asian Fusion Tacos.
* Chico Beer-ja will sell for $6 a pint, $1 of which will go toward the making of our documentary.
* The beer is orange with a citrus taste. (Think Leinenkugels or Blue Moon.) Aero Plains has many other terrific beers on tap if you're not into that. (Trust us - we've been there a few times these last couple of months.)
* If you're not a beer drinker, Aero Plains offers wine and mixed drinks as well.
* The entire filmmaking team will be there, as well as some folks who are featured in the movie.
* Nashville singer/songwriter Taylor Kropp will be performing.

Friday, September 1, 2017

Wings beer premiere

Now this should be fun.
You're invited to Aero Plains Brewing on Friday, Sept. 15 for the unveiling of a special beer that was created in honor of the 1980s Wichita Wings.
The event begins at 7 p.m. You can learn more on our Facebook event page.
I spent a couple hours this morning with Aero Plains owner Lance Minor kegging and sampling the beer, which is orange and has a citrus taste. For every pint sold, one dollar will go toward funding our documentary about the Wings of the '80s.
What will be the beer be called? That's a surprise reserved for Sept. 15. (Editor's note: We didn't save it for Sept. 15.) There will be live music, a food truck - maybe even a local celebrity or two.
If you're never been to Aero Plains, it's an extremely cool venue located in the heart of the Delano district. And in case you haven't heard, Wichita is one of the best places in America to drink beer.