Arena draws hundreds of job seekers

When the doors to Century II opened Saturday morning for the Intrust Bank Arena job fair, a line of applicants already stretched as far south as Waterman.

During the six-hour job fair, at least 5,000 people were expected to submit resumes for the 420 available part-time positions.

Chris Presson, general manager of the arena, wasn't surprised by the large, early crowd.

"We're thrilled with the turnout," he said. "I think word spread fast that we were hiring."

The first scheduled event for the arena is the Brad Paisley concert Jan. 9. Presson said he hopes to have all the positions filled by then to give the new employees enough time to learn the equipment and get trained.

"The sooner the better for us," Presson said. "And I'm sure it's the same for them."

The job fair attracted people of all ages, experience and goals. There were teenagers looking for their first job as well as retirees who want to fill some of their free time.

Presson said he understands why the arena positions are attractive for the retirees.

"They don't necessarily need the money," he said. "But they want to get out and about. This is a good way for them to do that."

John Stengel, 20, has been unemployed for four months. He said he has put in 30 to 40 applications throughout Wichita, but has had only two interviews and no job.

"I'm kind of hoping they'll help me out here," he said.

He said he likes the idea of working at the arena because it's also a place he looks forward to visiting for fun.

"I love going to concerts," Stengel said. "I figured the arena would be a good place to look."

Ideally, he said, he wants to be a video game designer, but he knows he needs to go to school for that. He hopes a new job would help him afford that education.

Chester Matney Jr. said he has been cooking since he was 9 years old. Now he's 35 and hopes to get a job as a kitchen manager. He said he wasn't at all surprised by the large turnout.

"The economy here in Wichita is really terrible when it comes to looking for a job," he said. "And this is like a big opportunity for everybody in Wichita to come find new work."

Matney said he had been unable to work recently because he was taking care of his mother while she recovered from a broken leg. But she's doing better now, and Matney said he can focus on his career. He was optimistic about his chances at getting one of the 420 available positions.

"This is hopefully a brand new start for me," he said.