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Wichita State Baseball Game Marks Riverfront Stadium's Long-Awaited Debut

Nadya Faulx
One of the dugouts at Riverfront Stadium. Wichita State will play Houston on Saturday in the stadium's debut event.

The first baseball game in the stadium built for the Wind Surge, Wichita’s minor league team, will not involve the Wind Surge.

Instead, Wichita State will play Houston in a college baseball game Saturday in Riverfront Stadium’s debut event.

And Wind Surge CEO Jordan Kobritz is OK with that. He says the Shocker game reflects the larger mission of the stadium.

“The bottom line is the stadium wasn't built for specifically or only for Wind Surge games,” Kobritz said. “This was built as a multipurpose stadium for the community. And that means other types of baseball events.”

Kobritz said it also means the stadium will host soccer games, concerts and other events in the future. It also was designed to possibly host football and hockey games.

The Wind Surge was supposed to play in the stadium last year, but the pandemic wiped out the minor league season. The stadium has sat empty since then.

Kobritz said Saturday’s game, which could draw as many as 8,000 fans, will serve as a soft opening before the Wind Surge’s home opener May 11.

“We need an event, probably multiple events, to train our staff,” Kobritz said. “These employees, most of them have never been around a baseball operation.”

City officials are encouraging fans to park on the east side of the river and use a free shuttle bus to get to the game.

The shuttle will run from the stadium along Waterman, go north on Emporia and then take Douglas back to the stadium. The two buses should make the loop every 5 minutes.

Face masks will be required on the bus and also in the stadium. All concession sales at the game will by credit card, to reduce contact between fans and employees.

“It’s been a long time coming,” Jared Forma, general manager of the Wind Surge, said during a news conference Thursday. “We were supposed to open last April.

“But good things come to those who wait.”

Tom joined KMUW in 2017 after spending 37 years with The Wichita Eagle where he held a variety of reporting and editing roles. He also is host of The Range, KMUW’s weekly show about where we live and the people who live here. Tom is an adjunct instructor in the Elliott School of Communication at Wichita State University.