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Intrust Bank Arena gets dirty for the weekend

Workers dumped dirt inside Wichita's shiny new Intrust Bank Arena for the first time Thursday. But it was quality dirt.

The Professional Bull Riders Built Ford Tough Series, at the arena tonight at 8 and Saturday at 7:30 p.m., doesn't use just any dirt.

It has to be just the right mix of clay and sand — ideally 70 percent clay, 30 percent sand.

They don't care so much about the riders who fall in it as about the bulls who buck on it.

If the dirt is too hard, it hurts the bulls' feet, said Clayton Cullen, senior vice president for production for the PBR tour, who oversaw the arena's first dirt dump.

Too soft and bulls can't buck as high as they want because their feet mush into the dirt.

Construction trucks spent the afternoon dropping 600 tons of dirt on the arena floor. Bulldozers spread the dirt around and packed it down until it formed an 8-inch layer all the way around.

Six hundred tons is about average for a PBR event, although they needed 2,000 tons in massive Cowboys Stadium, the new home of the Dallas Cowboys, Cullen said.

He called the dirt being used in the arena "very theatrical dirt, if you can believe that. There are people that specialize. That's all they do, dirt for arenas and shows."

But if you really want to know about dirt, talk to somebody who falls in it for a living.

Watching the dump trucks with interest were PBR cowboys Skeeter Kingsolver of McLouth, who ranks 10th in the series, and second-ranked Austin Meier, of Kinta, Okla.

"Some dirt is like falling into a soft hotel bed," Meier said.

"Then there's other arenas where you might as well land on this," he said, pointing to the arena's cement floor.

Not that they think too much about it during their brief rides on bucking bulls.

"It happens so fast that you don't have time to think about nothing but 'Ow,' " Meier said.

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