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 games.”
Ways for fans to participate in NCAA-related activities will start on Wednesday, March 14, and run through Saturday, March 17. “Whether fans have a ticket or not, they will want to come to Wichita for Fan Fest and the many parties that will be taking place and the energetic, basketball-centric atmosphere,” said Santo.
All eight teams selected to play in Wichita will participate in Open Practice Day at INTRUST Bank Arena on Wednesday, March 14. Each of the 40-minute 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.
In addition to Open Practice Day, Fan Fest and more than a dozen parties and fan events will be hosted directly around the arena and in surrounding districts such as Old Town and the Historic Delano District during the week of the tournament, providing a variety of ways for locals and visitors to enjoy the tournament.
“Wichita is an energetic Midwest sports city, and has banded together to create what will be a truly remarkable NCAA experience for locals and visitors alike,” said Santo. “More than a dozen parties and special events are planned, local restaurants and breweries are creating unique flavors for fans to try and special welcome messages will be displayed throughout the city to showcase how excited we are to host this event and welcome people to our city.”
On Thursday, March 15, Sessions 1 and 2 will be played at INTRUST Bank Arena. Fan Fest will begin two hours prior to tip off and 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.
A full list of fan festivities can be found here: www.visitwichita.com/fan-events. A variety of other resources can be found at www.visitwichita.com/welcome-basketball-fans.
Tournament games will not be played in Wichita on Friday, March 16, but fan events and area attractions will be open and welcoming fans.
“Friday is an opportunity for visitors to tour the city – and Wichita has something for everyone,” said Santo. “While basketball fans will find a variety of sports bars and fan events, from downtown and beyond, to catch the games playing in other cities, those wanting to visit any of Wichita’s more than 33 museums and other attractions like the Sedgwick County Zoo, the iconic Keeper of the Plains, urban art tours or Tanganyika Wildlife Park, will enjoy a whole day to explore.”
St. Patrick’s Day, March 17, will consist of Session 3 games and plenty of parties to mark the holiday, such as Wichita’s 12th annual Historic Delano District’s parade and Brick + Mortar’s Irish Fest 2018.
“Wichita loves basketball and we pride ourselves in being a welcoming, must-visit Midwest destination,” said Santo. “If you want to experience a high-energy, community party environment, you simply must join us in Wichita for NCAA basketball.”
Teams, game times and match ups to take place in Wichita will be announced on Sunday, March 11. Single session and all-session tickets are now on sale through the NCAA Ticket Exchange.
For more information on the tournament in Wichita, details about the fan events happening around the arena and more, go to VisitWichita.com.
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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.