The effort to remake one of Intrust Bank Arena’s entrances before next year’s March Madness is under way.
Construction began this month on Entrance C, the north entrance closest to Old Town. It should end in mid-November.
The project will add three sets of double doors and more stairs to the arena’s main and upper concourses.
“The lobby space will basically double in size,” said Intrust Bank Arena general manager A.J. Boleski.
About a dozen parking spots on the arena’s north side will be eliminated to create a larger outdoor plaza for lines before events.
Arena and Sedgwick County officials say the upgrades are needed because the entrance has gained more foot traffic with the growth of bars and restaurants in Old Town.
“We’ve seen that already when Wichita State and K-State play games (at Intrust),” Boleski said.
The arena will host the first and second rounds of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament in 2018 and 2021.
“(But) every event that we host is going to benefit from it,” Boleski added.
SMG is contracted by Sedgwick County to operate Intrust Bank Arena. The county is responsible for approving and paying for capital improvements at the arena.
In March, Sedgwick County commissioners approved a $1.6 million contract with Key Construction for the renovations.
“I think it’ll be a great improvement from a fan perspective,” Chairman Dave Unruh said. “It will be a great improvement for getting folks in and out of the arena.”
Sales tax money left over from the arena’s original construction are used to pay for capital projects like the Entrance C remodel.
At the end of last month, the arena sales tax reserve fund had about $11.4 million in it, down from more than $15 million originally.
“It was a sizable amount of money,” Unruh said. “The use of the money has been very judicial and has resulted in real improvements to the arena.”
Construction on the remodel began April 10. Boleski said the renovations will take place over several months that are normally considered less busy at the arena.
“We definitely honed in on the summer months and trying to get as much done as we can,” he said.
The arena’s other entrances – Entrances A and B – will remain open during the work.