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Director's Goal: Remembering When The Wichita Wings Ruled The Kansas Coliseum


The Orpheum Theatre will host the premiere of the documentary film "God Save the Wings" on Saturday.

"God Save the Wings" is based on "Make This Town Big," a book that details the Wichita Wings’ rise to success in the 1980s.

"It’s a delicious slice of Wichita history that we didn’t want people to forget," said Adam Knapp, the film's director.

The indoor soccer team was the first professional major league team in Kansas and quickly became a cultural phenomenon in Wichita.

The Wings formed in 1979 as part of  the Major Indoor Soccer League, where they competed with teams from larger cities.

Wichitans would pack the Kansas Coliseum to watch top foregin players compete, consistently filling up the arena's nearly 10,000 seats.

“It was so unique to the '80s," Knapp said. "They sold the whole sexual aspect. They had this beautiful cheer squad … and then you throw in this team of mostly European, young guys."

The team was hugely popular with the young, single crowd. The players would make it known where they were heading to celebrate after the game. The party would simply follow them from the Coliseum.

The players became part of the community. Many of them made Wichita their home year-round, which increased their stature in the city.

For many fans, the Wings served as their introduction to soccer.

“Saturday mornings, my best friend and I would play soccer in a youth soccer league," Knapp said. "That didn’t exist before the Wichita Wings. 

"The soccer community we now live in is a direct result of those years."

Knapp grew up a Wings fan in the '80s and began working on the documentary three years ago.

He and his team watched approximately 300 hours of tape from past Wings game to compile clips for the documentary.

The crew then went around the globe to interview former players, fans and other people associated with the team. A narrative quickly fell into place.

Many of the local interviews were filmed at landmarks in Wichita. According to Knapp, the documentary has quite a bit of local history and has a “Wichita flavor.”

Some of the former players are scheduled to return to Wichita for the premiere of the film. Doors open at 6 p.m. at the Orpheum Theatre.

David Garcia is an intern in the KMUW News Lab.