It's not easy to fit a round fan base into an arena roughly shaped like a rectangle.
Once Wichita State athletic director Eric Sexton was sure a men's basketball game in Intrust Bank Arena wouldn't cheat season-ticket holders, it became reality. The Shockers will play their highest-profile non-conference game downtown, a matchup against old rival Tulsa on Dec. 21.
The game will satisfy the NCAA's requirement to hold a game at the arena as preparation for the NCAA women's tournament in March.
"We were really trying to work hard so that our great, loyal season-ticket holders are accommodated," Sexton said. "We wanted it to be a smooth transition."
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WSU announced details for the game, which will be included in season-ticket packages, on Wednesday. Single-game tickets for Tulsa go on sale Nov. 1 through the arena box office and Select-A-Seat.
Taking seat locations from round Koch Arena and fitting them into Intrust Bank Arena, with its straight edges and rounded corners, isn't easy and won't be exact. Sexton said his department did what it could to give boosters seats as close as possible to their Koch Arena location. WSU will use its Shocker Athletic Scholarship Organization priority points system to determine seat locations.
"Their corners aren't the same as our corners," said Russell Wilkins, assistant athletic director for ticket operations. "We're going to do our best to take care of people."
Reserved parking will be provided downtown for season-ticket holders with reserved spots at Koch Arena. Wilkins said season-ticket packages, minus the Tulsa game, will be mailed out by the end of October. Parking information and tickets for the Tulsa game will be mailed in by the end of November.
"We were a little bit cautious prior to formally announcing this game so we could ensure that our season-ticket holders and donors would taken care of," Sexton said.
Fulfilling NCAA requirements is just one reason for Sexton to want the Shockers to play downtown for the first time since they left the Forum after the 1955 season. WSU will host the first and second rounds of the NCAA women's basketball tournament in March. Intrust Bank Arena seats 15,004 for basketball, about 4,500 more than Koch Arena.
"It's an important issue for our community," Sexton said. "It's a great venue to expand and give more people the opportunity to see Shocker men's basketball."
With the right opponent, Sexton would like WSU to play a non-conference game downtown each season. Coach Gregg Marshall takes recruits on a tour when they visit WSU.
Many schools use a mid-December date, when students are in finals or on holiday break, to move a game off campus. Kansas and Kansas State annually play games at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo. Missouri and Illinois meet each December in St. Louis.
Sexton said he isn't sure if the downtown arena will help lure good non-conference opponents to Wichita.
"It cannot hurt when you have the larger venue," he said. "It gives us an additional option."