From now on, you may find it a little easier to get into and out of the Intrust Bank Arena.
Sedgwick County and arena operator SMG on Monday opened an expanded north entrance to the facility, in time for the evening’s Foo Fighters concert and well ahead of the NCAA March Madness basketball tournament.
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“The NCAA tournament was the catalyst for this project, but every event, starting with the one tonight, the Foo Fighters, is going to benefit as a result, said arena manager A.J. Boleski.
The project cost about $1.68 million and took seven months to complete.
I think this is an indication ... that we understand how important cultural and entertainment amenities are in our community,” said County Commission Chairman David Unruh, who also spoke at the dedication ceremony. “We believe they make this a better place for individuals to come to our community to live and work and play.”
The new entry almost doubles the amount of foot traffic that can flow through the north end of the building. Where the old north lobby had space for about six metal detectors to scan incoming patrons for weapons, the expansion can handle as many as 10 screening stations at a time, he said.
In addition, the single narrow escalator that was the only access on the north side has been augmented by a wide staircase that allows people to walk up to the seating area if they choose, he said.
The arena has also added heaters so customers and staff won’t have to be quite as cold on winter days.
When the arena opened, only about 20 to 30 percent of the customers came in from the north side, Boleski said.
But that’s changed over time with increased traffic from Old Town nightspots and development of new hotels and apartments within walking distance.
Now, about half of arena patrons use the north entrance, Boleski said.