Intrust Bank Arena’s entrance closest to Old Town could get an upgrade before the arena hosts March Madness in 2018.
Sedgwick County will consider a $2 million remodel that would add an expanded lobby, more doors and more stairways to the northern entrance of the arena.
Officials say they want to improve guests’ experience at the arena and better handle the foot traffic of larger events, such as the first and second rounds of the 2018 NCAA men’s basketball tournament.
County chief financial officer Chris Chronis said the project would be a “fairly significant change to the footprint of the building.”
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The northern entrance – Entrance C – was designed as a secondary entrance that features a small lobby and a one-person, one-way escalator, Chronis said. Entrance C is closer to Douglas and Old Town than the arena’s other entrances.
“Many of the people who are going to the facility are coming there from Old Town,” Chronis said. “They go to Old Town for dinner, and then they go to an event.”
At some events, upwards of 50 percent of attendees go through Entrance C, Intrust Bank Arena general manager A.J. Boleski says.
This is part of the solution to put on a fantastic event. This is our time to shine.
Intrust Bank Arena general manager A.J. Boleski
Arena management originally considered building another escalator, but decided stairs were “the way to go,” Boleski said.
“We wanted to be able to have two-way traffic,” Boleski said.
The remodel would add more space to the arena’s lobby, more doorways and staircases to the main and upper concourse.
It would eliminate 13 parking spaces near the entrance to help create a plaza for lines similar to plazas near the arena’s other entrances.
“We feel this is extremely important; a much better guest experience than one single line going around the building,” Boleski said.
They’re also considering adding another box office location on that side of the arena.
SMG is contracted by Sedgwick County to operate Intrust Bank Arena. The county is responsible for approving and funding capital improvements to the arena.
SMG provides a list of projects to the county every year before Oct. 1. The county has 30 days to approve the projects. The county is reimbursed for money not used on approved projects.
The $2 million remodel is part of a list of arena upgrades totaling about $3.4 million for 2017.
Entrance C would be closed for about four months if the project was approved, Boleski said. Arena management would likely close that entrance for “slower” months between June and September 2017.
Boleski said it was important to upgrade the entrance before the city hosts the NCAA Tournament in March 2018.
“This is part of the solution to put on a fantastic event,” he said. “This is our time to shine.”
Boleski said the remodel is also about impressing the NCAA so it will bring the tournament back to Wichita in the future.
“It’s super competitive, you can’t guarantee it, but they’re more likely to bring that event back,” Boleski said. “So we want to put ourselves in a situation to be successful.”
Old Town is not going to quit growing. The idea always was that there would an entrance on that side to Old Town and then Old Town, as it grew, would have more effect. And I think we’re there now.
Sedgwick County Commissioner Tim Norton
County Commissioner Tim Norton agreed, saying a more functional north-side entrance will draw more people to it.
“Old Town is not going to quit growing,” Norton said. “The idea always was that there would an entrance on that side to Old Town and then Old Town, as it grew, would have more effect.
“And I think we’re there now.”