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Monday, April 21, 2014

Intrust Bank Arena: More rock concerts, more sports

By Deb Gruver
The Wichita Eagle

People are watching for a better year this year at Intrust Bank Arena.

SMG, the private company that manages the downtown venue, says it should be.

The arena’s general manager, A.J. Boleski, recently told Sedgwick County commissioners to expect a busier year as the concert industry makes a rebound after a few tough years. Boleski expects more rock acts at the arena, which will be key as the venue tries to attract newcomers.

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers are on tap for April 26.

Boleski said he’s pushing hard to get more college sports at the arena as well as an NBA game.

Some have criticized the arena for focusing too much on country music. But industry experts say those shows do well because their tickets generally are less expensive.

The arena netted $389,659 last year, down from its first year of just more than $2 million. The county won’t get any of that money from 2011. Its contract with SMG calls for SMG to keep the first $450,000 of profit.

Boleski said Wichita Thunder hockey has been bringing in more folks since brothers Rodney, Brandon and Johnny Steven took over as local owners.

Boleski recently attended a Pollstar conference in Los Angeles. He told commissioners, “It looks like a good, solid year as far as concerts out on the road.”

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