In advance hosting NCAA tournament action, Intrust Bank Arena and the surrounding area are undergoing some changes.
Next March, Intrust Bank Arena will serve as a host facility when first and second rounds of NCAA men’s basketball tournament action come to Wichita. This will be a first for the venue, which opened in 2010 and has been home to the ECHL’s Wichita Thunder throughout its history.
Between now and the first tournament games, both Intrust Bank Arena and the surrounding area will be overhauled. Certain projects, such as a $3.25 million street reconstruction in Old Town, address infrastructure, while other changes–including a $1.63 million renovation to the north entrance, and a $385,000 expenditure for improved Wi-Fi–will bring upgrades to Intrust Bank Arena.
Leading up to the event, the City of Wichita and Sedgwick County–the latter of which owns Instrust Bank Arena–are collaborating on the projects in hopes of a successful tournament. More from The Wichita Eagle:
All told, the city and county together will probably spend about $7 million to $10 million on improvements downtown by tournament time. That will be partially offset by a boost in commerce over the tournament weekend.
“I think it’s a start,” Rigby said. “I think it’s always dangerous to think a three-day event is going to fund everything. I think it’s one of those things that we look at the NCAA as just an important three-day event, but it’s just a start of a number of events that will be taking place in the downtown.”
County Commission Chairman David Unruh said the tournament turned out to be a perfect spur to correct a design flaw and expand the north entrance of the arena.
“The original concept was we’d have a few people coming from the establishments in Old Town” north of the arena, Unruh said. “It’s clearly turned out to be lots and lots of people coming from that direction.”
Intrust Bank Arena will host tournament games on March 15 and 17 of 2018. It will not take long for the tournament to return, as Intrust Bank Arena has already been selected as a host of first and second round action in 2021.