Wichita and Sedgwick County celebrated last month's NCAA tournament weekend as an unvarnished success on Tuesday, saying it acts as a springboard for Wichita's next tournament weekend in 2021 and sets the bar for other cities.
"We think your building (the Intrust Bank Arena) worked really well for that small event," Mayor Jeff Longwell teased Sedgwick County commissioners.
Commissioners crossed the street for a joint meeting with the City Council and officials of Wichita State University athletics, Visit Wichita and the Wichita Sports Commission who pulled off near-flawless execution of the city's first NCAA tournament weekend since 1994.
The final costs to put on the event and the final economic impact of the tournament weekend on the community are still being calculated, officials said.
"Some of the impact can't be measured," including the national exposure the tournament brought to Wichita, Longwell said. "That's a byproduct that helps us as we're trying to showcase our community for a variety of reasons."
Longwell said he had talked to a number of people who traveled to other cities for tournament games and they said "you could barely tell there was a tournament going on in their facility."
"Whether it was Omaha or San Diego, it was just a totally different atmosphere," he said.
He said the city is hoping to parlay the success of this year's tournament into landing other major sports events.
"I can't imagine this hasn't positioned us to host future tournaments because of the experience we had," Longwell said.
The city has compiled final tallies on police services and transit for the tournament weekend.
Although the crowds were large and alcohol flowed freely in street parties surrounding the arena, the crowd was remarkably well-behaved.
Police made 12 arrests over four days in the areas around the tournament, according to figures provided by police spokesman Charley Davidson.
Those included three cases each of battery, property damage and marijuana/paraphernalia violations; two firearms discharges and one case of driving on a suspended license, he said.
Police investigated a total of 108 dispatch calls. An ordinary four-day weekend would typically generate about 70 to 80, said Parks and Recreation Director Troy Houtman, the city's point man for NCAA tournament activities.
Part of what kept a lid on lawbreaking was the large police presence of city officers and county deputies, including horseback and bike patrols, officials said.
"Every corner had a police officer," . "There were contingency plans for just about anything you could think of."
Mostly, police wound up directing traffic and answering visitors' questions.
"We had a lot of compliments that they were great ambassadors," Longwell said. "I think that sent a great message out there."
Wichita Transit provided 15,000 rides to and from the arena, including 9,650 on the Q-Line trolleys and 5,650 on parking shuttles.
The total extra cost for operations and maintenance for the transit system was $12,500.
One of the biggest highlights officials cited was the turnout for the Wednesday open practice day.
The practice is ordinarily kind of a sleepy event at other tournament venues. But Wichita drew more than 14,000 fans over the course of the day, including about 100 busloads of children who were taken on field trips to the arena, officials said.
Wichita officials had traveled to Tulsa last year to watch how that city put a tournament weekend together. And this year, Wichita hosted arena managers from Iowa who are preparing for next year's tournament stop in Des Moines, said A.J. Boleski manager of the Intrust Bank Arena.
"They're sitting in the stands and their comments were things like, 'I have no idea how we're going to top what we saw here in Wichita,'" Boleski said. "That's a real compliment and we were glad to hear that."