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Wichita State Wichita State aiming for big crowd at Intrust Bank Arena

  • Published Saturday, Nov. 17, 2012, at 3:26 p.m.

Wichita State started Intrust Bank Arena’s life as a basketball venue. Kansas State and the Oklahoma City Thunder upped expectations by selling out. Now it is WSU’s turn to show how it can raise its downtown game.

WSU plays Southern Missisipppi at the arena on Dec. 22, its first Saturday date in three games downtown. The marketing department will soon roll out its campaign to sell tickets and turn businesses in downtown and Old Town into Shocker boosters. There is a financial incentive to get people excited. WSU’s guarantee money from the promoter is less than a year ago, but it can recoup that money by selling tickets.

“Our goal is 15,000 (tickets),” assistant athletic director for marketing John Brewer said. “The Thunder set the record (15,004) down there, and we’re going to try to break the Thunder’s record.”

The Shockers receive an $85,000 guarantee, down from last season’s $125,000 check from Russ Potts Productions. WSU can add to its take by selling tickets, a difference in how this year’s contract with the promoter is structured. It can make from $10,000 (7,500 tickets) to $60,000 for selling more than 14,000. Last season’s game against Alabama-Birmingham drew 11,204, which would be good for a bonus of $35,000. To reach last season’s check, WSU needs to sell 12,000 tickets to earn $42,500.

The 2010 game against Tulsa, part of the season-ticket package, drew 14,114. Last season’s game and this season’s are not part of the season-ticket package.

“We’re continually working on how we put this thing together so that all parties win,” WSU athletic director Eric Sexton said. “It’s a work in progress.”

Tickets for the game went on sale in October. The big marketing push starts Nov. 29 with $40,000-$50,000 worth of advertising and promotions, Brewer said. Some of the campaign will attempt to create Shocker atmosphere outside the arena.

“We’re going to put coasters downtown, stickers in the windows,” he said. “We’re going to be having window-dressing contests with the businesses downtown. We’re developing plans for a pep rally at some of the local sports bars down there, both pre-game and post-game.”

A year ago, WSU and the promoter discounted tickets in the weeks leading up to the game to boost attendance. Brewer said that won’t happen next month. Season-ticket holders received a $5 discount in the pre-sale and the price-cutting stops there. Brewer said he thinks the advertising and WSU’s success on the court means discounts are unnecesssary.

“We wanted to reward the early bird instead of the late-comer,” he said.

Prices range from $17-$152.

Out of the red —

Run with Bolt — Track and field coach Steve Rainbolt is celebrating — in a uniquely crazy-runner way — his 55th birthday with a fund-raiser on Nov. 30.

Rainbolt, WSU’s coach for 12 years, will walk/jog 55 kilometers (34 miles) at Cessna Stadium from 4 p.m.-midnight. In case of bad weather, he will move to the Heskett Center.

He is taking pledges with the money going to the track and field program.

On the pledge sheet, Rainbolt helpfully documents some of his expenses. Spikes cost $100. A javelin costs $800. He estimates $5,000 for a down payment on the knee replacement surgery he will require in December.

For information, call 978-3362.

Check Paul Suellentrop’s Shocker blog at blogs.kansas.com/shockwaves. Reach him at 316-269-6760 or psuellentrop@wichitaeagle.com.

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