It’s been 24 years since a men’s NCAA tournament has been played in Wichita, and 2018 will be the first time the games will be played at the 15,000-seat INTRUST Bank Arena in the heart of the city. The last time Wichita State University hosted the tournament was in 1994 at the Kansas Coliseum.
This year, First and Second Rounds, which includes three sessions, of the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship will take place March 15 and 17.
“Excitement is at an all-time high for NCAA basketball in Wichita,” said Susie Santo, president and CEO of Visit Wichita. “It’s an energy you can feel all through the community – one that will be unmistakable the week of the tournament, and anyone can join in the effort to welcome basketball fans into the city.”
A local organizing committee, comprised of Wichita State University, INTRUST Bank Arena, Greater Wichita Area Sports Commission, Visit Wichita, City of Wichita and Sedgwick County have been meeting regularly and working together to ensure a successful tournament. “One aspect of particular importance to the committee is to provide an energetic welcome to those visiting Wichita for the tournament,” said Santo. “From posters to welcome messages on social media – we want fans to know we’re excited to have them here.”
Santo says it’s not just committee members who play a part in welcoming visitors. “Everyone is important when it comes to making visitors feel welcome,” said Santo. “Whether it’s welcoming them to the city, simply striking up a conversation with someone visiting our city, suggesting your favorite restaurant or sharing what you love about Wichita, it all helps showcase Wichita to a visitor who may be unfamiliar with all the things there are to see and do.”
Business owners have also been instrumental in creating an energetic, welcoming atmosphere. The community has come together to host more than a dozen fan events and other NCAA-related activities, starting Wednesday, March 14, and running through Saturday, March 17. A few key happenings include:
- Open Practice Day, March 14: All eight teams selected to play in Wichita will have a 40-minute practice at INTRUST Bank Arena. The practices are free and the public is welcome. Doors open at 10 a.m., arena concessions will be available and the first practice is scheduled at 11 a.m.
- Fan Fest, March 15: Starting two hours before the tip-off of the first game played in Wichita, Fan Fest will take place to the north of the arena on St. Francis in between William and Douglas Avenue, which will be closed to traffic from 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday, March 13, through 5 p.m. Friday, March 16. Designed to be a fun, festive environment, the event will include food trucks, a live DJ, a “Big Shot” basketball game and more. Sessions 1 and 2 will be played at INTRUST Bank Arena this day.
- St. Patrick's Day, March 17: A variety of special events to mark the holiday, such as Wichita’s 12th annual Historic Delano District’s parade and Brick + Mortar’s Irish Fest 2018, are set to take place. Session 3 will be played this day at INTRUST Bank Arena.
A full list of fan festivities can be found at www.visitwichita.com/fan-events. A variety of other resources, can be found at www.visitwichita.com/welcome-basketball-fans.
"Whether you have a ticket or not, everyone can help welcome the thousands of basketball fans that will soon be descending on Wichita,” said Santo. “We encourage everyone – locals and visitors – to participate in the fun fan events and enjoy what is sure to be an energetic, basketball-centric atmosphere in Wichita,” said Santo.
Information on parking and transportation, Wichita attractions, restaurants, sports bars and more can be found at www.VisitWichita.com, along with tournament and fan event details.
Teams, game times and match ups to take place in Wichita will be announced on Sunday, March 11. Single game and all-session tickets are now on sale through the NCAA Ticket Exchange.
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About Visit Wichita
Visit Wichita markets the greater Wichita area as a major convention and tourism destination, thereby enhancing the economic development of the city, county, region and state. Visit Wichita is led by president and CEO Susie Santo, and in 2017 travel and tourism contributed nearly $1.1 billion in economic impact to the greater Wichita area.