Big-city modern meets Old Town charm at Intrust Bank Arena, which opens to the public on Saturday. Members of the media got a sneak peek Monday.
From its brushed aluminum and glass handrails and sleek polished concrete floors to brick archways and native Kansas limestone, the arena mingles the technology of the 21st century with touches from the past.
Step inside, and you'll find party suites nearly as big as a first apartment — with nicer appliances — and premium seats that have built-in drinkholders.
There are 25 restrooms, including five that are unisex, and 275 public toilets that recently met the test when flushed at the same time by Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts.
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Performers such as Billy Joel and Elton John will get ready in star dressing rooms with private showers. Most will bring their own decorations and furnishings, though the dressing rooms have mirrors, chairs and TVs.
Thunder hockey players have separate lockers in separate rooms for street clothes and uniforms. Each uniform locker has its own ventilation exhaust duct to get rid of the stink of competition.
A 30-foot by 30-foot LED atrium marquee — think giant TV screen — on the arena's south side can be seen
from Kellogg. An LED "ribbon board" that wraps around the arena's seating area flashes upcoming events. On Monday, the flashing sign advertised the April 1 Taylor Swift concert, an event that drew some residents' ire because tickets sold out in 15 minutes.
The first concert at the arena will be Brad Paisley on Jan. 9.
Arena general manager Chris Presson said Monday that the key to the arena's success will be the public's continued purchase of tickets.
"If we continue to buy tickets, then the sky's the limit," he said.
He briefly addressed complaints about how tickets have been sold.
"We are not a proponent of scalping," he said. "We don't condone scalping."
The arena uses Select-A-Seat and a lottery system to sell tickets.
The lottery system works this way:
One raffle ticket is issued per person. If someone takes more than one ticket, they are disqualified. On the day tickets go on sale, the line forms at 7 a.m. If raffle ticket holder No. 211 is drawn, No. 211 goes to the front of the line, followed by No. 212 and No. 213, for example.
Presson said the lottery system — criticized by some — ensures that camping out for tickets is not necessary. In fact, he said, camping out is not allowed. It also discourages scalping, he said.
The arena also announced Monday that tickets for events can be delivered directly to cell phones. The service is available through Select-A-Seat.
Doors for Saturday's open house will open at 10:30 a.m. Parking on Saturday will be free in the 4,000 city-owned spaces, and the Q Line trolley will run from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Presson said he expects 15,000 to 30,000 people to attend the grand opening.
"I really think they'll be wowed," he said.
The 15,000-seat arena, paid for by a 1 percent, 30-month sales tax, is a county project. It's one of the major components of the effort to revitalize downtown.
Construction on the $205.5 million project began in November 2007 and wrapped up ahead of time and on budget, which pleased assistant county manager Ron Holt.
He said Monday that he was "just elated" to see the arena about to open.