Garth Brooks hasn’t strummed his first chord at Wichita’s Intrust Bank Arena, but he’s already breaking records:
Most shows played.
Most sold-out shows.
Most tickets sold, and at the fastest pace – 65,000 in just 45 minutes.
And it all starts Thursday night.
The biggest-selling solo artist in American history – and his popular-in-her-own-right wife, country music star Trisha Yearwood – will perform six concerts in four days in Wichita.
Here’s what you need to know if you plan to be in or around the arena during the Garth Brooks World Tour from Thursday to Sunday.
Traffic and parking
Streets and parking lots around Intrust Bank Arena likely will get dicey before and during the shows, particularly on Saturday and Sunday, when Brooks will perform concert doubleheaders. Carpooling is highly encouraged.
Lots near the arena are charging between $5 and $30 to park. You can park for free at Lawrence-Dumont Stadium or Exploration Place and ride a free shuttle, which will run continuously throughout the concerts.
The east lane of Emporia Street will be reserved for drop-offs and pick-ups for taxis and limousines only.
If you have tickets to the second of two concerts Saturday or Sunday, take note:
Entry doors for the late concert are expected to open about 45 minutes after the first concert ends – but exact timing is uncertain. Arena officials are encouraging fans to visit nearby restaurants or bars until the first concert concludes, and to monitor the arena’s Twitter (@intrustarena) or Facebook page for updates on when gates will open.
“Those shows will most likely start later than advertised, and doors will most likely open later than advertised,” said Christine Pileckas, director of sales and marketing for the arena. “We definitely encourage fans to stay tuned to (social media) if they don’t want to stand outside in the cold.”
The arena has added staff and hired outside cleaning companies to accommodate the quick change between shows, Pileckas said.
“Because of the unique nature of those back-to-back shows, we have a short amount of time to clean that building and make it look as clean for the second group of people as it did for the first,” she said. “That’s going to be our biggest challenge.”
Pileckas said the quick changes will be “great preparation for the NCAA Tournament.” The arena was selected as a site for the first two rounds of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament in 2018.
On the bright side: Brooks has promised to wait until all fans are inside the building before starting the second show, Pileckas said.
“He won’t take the stage if there are still people outside waiting,” she said. “So people shouldn’t worry about missing some of the concert if things take longer (than expected).”
About 2,000 of each show’s seats – the entire floor and several sections of the lower bowl – are reserved with paperless tickets.
If you have one of those, be sure you have the credit card you purchased your ticket with, along with a valid, government-issued ID. (If you were not mailed or e-mailed a paper ticket, you likely have a paperless one.)
Ticket-takers at any entrance will scan your credit card, check it against your ID and print a receipt, which will be your ticket into the show.
Note: If you purchased several paperless tickets with one credit card, everyone in your party will have to enter at the same time.
Still need a ticket?
If you want a ticket to one of the six shows, you will have to buy it on the secondary market.
Stubhub had plenty of tickets listed Wednesday afternoon ranging from $35 to more than $600. GoTickets.com still had lots of tickets as well, ranging from $55 to $600, depending on the date and seats.
In general the secondary-market tickets are cheaper now than they were back in late October, after the Wichita concerts sold out.
What you can bring
Small point-and-shoot cameras
Bags smaller than 16-by-8-by-12 inches (they will be searched)
Signs or posters 24-by-36 inches or smaller
Audio or video recording devices
Large purses or bags
Studded jewelry or spurs
Noise-making devices (air horns, whistles, etc.)
Large signs attached to poles or sticks
Outside food or beverages
Party on, Garth
Downtown restaurants and bars are preparing for big crowds all weekend, adding staff and in some cases opening extra hours.
Old Mill Tasty Shop, 604 E. Douglas, will be open Thursday evening to accommodate hungry concert-goers, staying open until 8 p.m. in addition to its normal Friday and Saturday dinner hours.
Several restaurants, including Larkspur and River City Brewing Co., are not taking reservations, opting instead for a first-come, first-served system. If you have a restaurant in mind, call ahead for specific information and be prepared to wait longer than usual.
“There have been a couple of big concerts at Intrust, so we know what to do and how to handle it,” said Shawna Sphar, banquet and catering manager at Larkspur restaurant.
This weekend likely will eclipse previous crowds, though. Combine the throng of Brooks fans with normal holiday crowds – many restaurants are booked with Christmas parties or other special events – and parking will be at a premium. The busiest times will be Saturday and Sunday evenings.
“We wish there were more of these types of concerts that came to Intrust because it helps all the businesses and it helps downtown so much,” Sphar said.
Trisha Yearwood book-signing
Yearwood, a Food Network personality in addition to being a country music star, will visit Williams-Sonoma in Wichita to sign copies of her latest cookbook, “Trisha’s Table: My Feel-Good Favorites for a Balanced Life.”
Yearwood will be at the store at Bradley Fair, 2000 N. Rock Road, from 1 to 3 p.m. Saturday. Tickets are $35, which includes a copy of the book.
Tickets can be ordered at www.eventbrite.com.
Low Places Lane
In honor of this record-breaking concert run, city officials approved the temporary renaming of two streets near Intrust Bank Arena.
A section of Waterman Street near St. Francis is Low Places Lane, and the portion of English Street near St. Francis was renamed Thunder Rolls Road. The temporary names – an homage to the Brooks hits, “Friends in Low Places” and “The Thunder Rolls” – will be in effect through Sunday.