WICHITA, KS– Nineteen years after its formation within the Central Hockey League owned by Chicago-based Horn Chen, Wichita Thunder Hockey has been purchased by three brothers in one of Wichita’s well-known entrepreneurial families. Rodney, Brandon and Johnny Steven closed Monday afternoon on the purchase of the minor league professional hockey team by its newly formed Steven Brothers Sports Management, LLC. The announcement was made at a news conference today by Rodney Steven II, joined by his brothers and Wichita Thunder representatives.
The announcement was made from INTRUST Bank Arena inside the Cox Lounge, overlooking the facility’s expansive 15,000 seat venue where the team has been playing since January 2010. “We’re now playing at one of the nicest arenas, with Kevin McClelland who is a first class coach,” said Rodney Steven II. “My brothers and I are ready to put all of our business experience to work, to give this team all the tools it needs to be the best they can be and to keep this team here in Wichita.”
Steven noted that through the new partnership and the support Wichita gives this team getting back to eventually winning championships will be the goal. In its heyday, the Wichita Thunder played to sell-out crowds at the Kansas Coliseum.
Steven Brothers Sports Management LLC is a new venture for the brothers, but not necessarily a new industry. Kansans know the Steven brothers as the owner/operators of Genesis Health Clubs, just adding their 9th and 10th facilities which supports their belief in physical activity and fitness. The partners also own/operate multiple car dealerships throughout the Wichita Area including Brandon Steven Motors, Subaru of Wichita, Suzuki of Wichita, Ford of Augusta and a partnership in Eddy’s Toyota. Brandon Steven says, “we have never owned a Sports Team but we are confident that with the Thunder’s fan support and our support we will get this team back to the championship!”
Thunder Coach Kevin McClelland said support for the new ownership is echoed throughout the team and staff. “I am very excited to have good local owners who are committed to winning! We made great strides as an organization last season and I know the Steven Brothers will be instrumental in ensuring the longtime success of the Thunder. My family and I have enjoyed our first year in Wichita and look forward to calling Wichita home for many more!”
In an unrelated move, the Wichita City Council approved Genesis Health Club as the management company for the Wichita Ice Center in April. Among its first priorities was hiring a new general manager for the facility and in April, Steven brought in Bryan Wells from Lafayette, LA as new GM. Coincidentally, Wells had played and coached for the Wichita Thunder, as a player winning back to back championships in 1993-94 and 1994-95 seasons. It was Wells and the current GM Joel Lomurno who opened discussions with Rodney about the Wichita Thunder opportunity in the past few months.
“It was no secret, the owners had been trying to sell the team for a while,” said Steven. “It would have either been sold to another outside owner or moved to another city. We’re excited to keep the team here and provide the community with more opportunities for entertainment and competitive sports.”
Steven Brothers Sports Management, LLC, is a limited liability corporation formed in 2011 to own and operate Wichita Thunder Hockey.