Wichita State University’s improbable run to the 2013 NCAA men’s basketball Final Four followed by an amazing undefeated regular season in 2014 put a national spotlight on the Shockers, their enviable home court at Charles Koch Arena and the atmosphere created by the city’s loyal fan base.

Sports planners around the country took notice that Wichita, the largest city in Kansas, was not only a central location to hold an event, it was one with incredible sports facilities and a built-in base of sports-loving residents. Wichita has flourished as a sports city in recent years, attracting national events, building new facilities, investing in a new airport terminal at Dwight D. Eisenhower National Airport, and continuing to build an impressive roster of hotels, restaurants and things to do to keep competitors and fans busy away from the game.

If you haven’t yet taken time to explore Wichita as a possible site for your sporting event, start here to get to know the Visit Wichita Sports Team and hear what makes Wichita worthy of your event.

Brian Hargrove - Visit Wichita

Brian Hargrove, Executive Director of Sports Development

What are sports event planners most impressed with after hosting in Wichita for the first time?
They have a blast when they’re here; they are amazed at how fun our city is and how much there is to do for both adults and kids.

What is a Wichita amenity most appreciated by sports planners?
A sports event planner recently told me he had never received the hospitality that he did in Wichita. He was blown away that every step of the way, the Visit Wichita team was there to help him with hotels, restaurants, facilities, whatever he needed. We focus on good communication with event planners during each step of the bid process as well as once we win the bid.

Name an under-the-radar Wichita sports facility:
There are many, but two that out of towners are most impressed with are our YMCA facilities – among the best in the country featuring amazing sports facilities – and Wichita Hoops, with 12 basketball/14 volleyball courts under one roof. We’ve won a couple of bids because of how unique a facility we have in Wichita Hoops.

What sporting event are people surprised to hear Wichita hosted?
The week-long USA Track and Field Junior Olympics in 2011, bringing close to 8,000 athletes to town from all over the country.

Name one Wichita attraction you consider a must-see for out-of-towners:
Chicken N Pickle has so much to do for adults and kids, you can spend hours there. It has also become a popular spot on site visits when we are hosting different organizations.

First major sports memory:
Watching the 1982 World Series with my dad, a huge St. Louis Cardinals fan. I was 6 years old at the time, but I still remember celebrating when the Cardinals won Game 7 to take the championship.

Most memorable sports event you’ve attended:
I have to call a tie on this one. After college, I got a job at USA Basketball and was lucky enough to work and attend two Olympics: 2004 in Athens and 2000 in Sydney, where we won the gold medal. The other one would be the 2013 NCAA men’s Final Four. While I went to six straight Final Fours while working at USA Basketball, not once did I ever think I would watch Wichita State – where my mom coached the women’s team for 10 years and where I earned my degree – play on that grand stage.

He’s cheering: Wichita State Shockers, St. Louis Cardinals, Arizona Cardinals, Denver Nuggets

He’s watching: Jerry Maguire

Josh Howell

Josh Howell, Sports Sales Manager

What are sports event planners most impressed with after hosting in Wichita for the first time?
Most don’t realize just how big of a city Wichita is and they are impressed by the fan support. No matter the event, the Wichita community loves their sports and event planners can see that firsthand when they bring an event to town. When Wichita hosted the NCAA men’s basketball tournament in 2018, we were the first host city to sell out our ticket allotment. The 2018 U.S. Water Ski National Championships were one of the best attended in that event’s history. This past summer Wichita shattered sales records and nearly tripled previous attendance records for any regional location of The Basketball Tournament, or TBT.

What is a Wichita amenity most appreciated by sports planners?
They appreciate that Wichita offers big city amenities with small town charm and hospitality.

Name an under-the-radar Wichita sports facility:
We won the bid for the U.S. Figure Skating competition because there are three sheets of ice within one mile of each other in downtown Wichita, with hotels in between. I also have to mention the new downtown baseball stadium to be completed in time for the start of the 2020 Triple-A baseball season.

What sporting event are people surprised to hear Wichita hosted?
We are proud to tell people we hosted the first and second rounds of the men’s NCAA basketball tournament in 2018 for the first time since building the new 15,000-seat INTRUST Bank Arena in downtown Wichita. We will again host men’s first- and second-round games in 2021. We also hosted first- and second-round games of the 2011 women’s tournament, and in 2022 the women’s Sweet Sixteen and Elite Eight are coming as we will be one of four regional sites.

Name one Wichita attraction you consider a must-see for out-of-towners:
The Keeper of the Plains sculpture down on the Arkansas River during the nightly lighting.

First major sports memory:
Shagging balls during batting practice for the California Angels and hanging out in the locker room after games with my dad, who played 11 years in the big leagues. Looking back, I can see just how special and unique those moments were.

Most memorable sports event you’ve attended:
My little brother was celebrating his 13th birthday at a Dallas Cowboys game in 2000 and I was there with my family. The Cowboys were playing the 49ers and as Terrell Owens celebrated his TD at midfield on the Star, Dallas safety George Teague proceeded to lay him out. Might not be a historic game but any Cowboys fans will remember that one!

He’s cheering: Arizona Wildcats, Wichita State Shockers, Arkansas Razorbacks, Los Angeles Angels, Dallas Mavericks, how ’bout them Cowboys

He’s watching: Tin Cup

Hunter Hogan - Visit Wichita

Hunter Hogan, Sports Coordinator

What are sports event planners most impressed with after hosting in Wichita for the first time?
The hospitality of the people in Wichita and the proximity of the venues. Wichita has plenty of sporting venues to offer and most of them are a short drive to hotels, restaurants and entertainment. Also, if sports event planners are using several venues, travel time from venue to venue rarely exceeds 15 minutes.

What is a Wichita amenity most appreciated by sports planners?
Wichita’s affordability, from accommodations to food to activities, makes it easy for a sports event planner to bring Wichita back to their board as a top option. We have a family-friendly environment with plenty of affordable things to do.

Name an under-the-radar Wichita sports facility:
The freshly renovated Stryker Sports Complex offers 11 turf soccer fields, all with lights, including a championship field and an indoor field.

What sporting event are people surprised to hear Wichita hosted?
Most would assume that the highest level of water ski competition would need to be hosted in California, Florida or at least in a Midwest city with a massive lake. In Maize, Kansas – on the edge of Wichita – is Mystic Lakes, a community that loves water ski and offered the perfect set up for the 2018 U.S. Water Ski National Championships.

Name one Wichita attraction you consider a must-see for out-of-towners:
Tanganyika Wildlife Park offers all ages a unique experience with the animals.

First major sports memory:
Watching Mario Chalmers drain a buzzer-beating 3-pointer on TV to put the University of Kansas into overtime in the 2008 national championship. The crowd and the atmosphere looked electric. I am usually not a KU fan, but it was hard not to root for them in overtime after watching that!

She’s cheering: University of Louisiana-Monroe, Wichita State University, Kansas City Chiefs, Kansas City Royals

She’s watching: Glory Road

If you’re a sporting event planner and Wichita isn’t on your consideration list, it should be. Contact us to learn more!