The NCAA will announce sites for its men’s basketball tournaments from 2019 through 2022 on Tuesday. Wichita’s Intrust Bank Arena is a candidate for a first- and second-round weekend.
“The bid process from the last time didn’t really change a whole lot,” said Wichita State associate athletic director Brad Pittman. “With a successful bid (for 2018), we had a blueprint of what they were looking for. We stuck to that blueprint.”
Wichita State would be the host for the games. The Greater Wichita Area Sports Commission, Visit Wichita, the arena, the city and Sedgwick County would assist.
Intrust Bank Arena held women’s NCAA Tournament games in 2011. It is one of eight sites for men’s first- and second-round games in 2018.
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On Tuesday, the NCAA will announce sites for first- and second-round games and regionals. Final Fours are scheduled through the 2021 season. As was the case in 2014, when the 2018 bid was awarded, Wichita is competing with a number of arenas in the region.
“We’re hopeful and we’re optimistic,” Pittman said. “But you never know until it’s announced.”
In 2016, the NCAA awarded the first weekend of games to St. Louis’ Scottrade Center, Oklahoma City’s Chesapeake Energy Arena and the Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines.
In 2017, Tulsa’s BOK Center held the early games and Kansas City’s Sprint Center was a regional site. In 2018, Omaha’s CenturyLink Center is a regional site. The Sioux Falls (S.D.) Sports Authority, according to the Argus Leader, bid on the early rounds at the 12,000-seat Premier Center, which opened in 2014.
The bid process started last spring. Pittman said Wichita’s bid is updated to include new hotels or other changes in hosting capabilities. It will include, as did the 2018 bid, a fan festival near the arena.
“They’ve got it down to a science,” said Bob Hanson, president of the Sports Commission. “It’s all done online and it’s pretty standardized.”
The NCAA won’t be able to judge Wichita and the downtown arena on a track record for men’s tournaments. If ticket sales for 2018 are going well, that might help Wichita’s case. While he was unable to provide exact numbers, Pittman said sales to Wichita State season-ticket holders, arena suite-holders and others on early lists are going well.
“The NCAA controls the ticket-sales process and what I do know based on their feedback and community feedback is interest is very strong for this event,” he said in an email.
Before 2018, Wichita last hosted the men’s tournament in 1994 at the Kansas Coliseum. Wichita State held NCAA games at its on-campus arena in 1956, 1964, 1966, 1968, 1971, 1973, 1978 and 1981.