Five years and two months after Sedgwick County voters approved a sales tax to pay for a downtown arena, officials plan a grand opening to show the public what its money bought.
Intrust Bank Arena's opening includes a tour, a food drive, local bands on the big stage, a skate-around with the Wichita Thunder hockey team, and a coloring contest.
The events span three days in January.
At the Jan. 2 ribbon cutting at 11 a.m., people will get their first chance to tour the arena, including a walk-through of dressing and locker rooms and premium seating. Folks can also play Guitar Hero and take jump shots in the arena's basketball setup until 5 p.m.
Refreshments will be offered for $1 to give people a relatively cheap chance to taste the foods that will be served during events.
Leading up to the ribbon-cutting, kids ages 6-12 can submit 8.5-by-11-inch drawings of what they want to see or do in the arena. A winner will be randomly chosen to cut the ribbon at the grand opening and get a special arena tour and tickets to see the Harlem Globetrotters.
The Eagle is sponsoring the contest. Drawings can be dropped off before Dec. 18 at the arena administration offices on the west side of the building or mailed to 500 E. Waterman, Wichita, KS 67202.
That day, the arena management company, SMG, will also have a food collection bin where people can take nonperishable items that will go to the Kansas Food Bank.
On Jan. 12 from 6 to 9 p.m., ROK ICT, which organizes the First Friday music crawls, will have three local bands playing the arena's main stage while arena tours are given.
Jan. 26 from 6 to 8 p.m., people can meet and skate with the Wichita Thunder. It's free, and skates will be provided for those who don't have them.
Country music star Brad Paisley will give the first performance at the arena on Jan. 9.