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.

In 2019, the city shattered sales records and nearly tripled previous attendance records for a basketball tournament in the middle of the summer and earned the opportunity to host again with the The Basketball Tournament/TBT 2020 Regionals.

Sports planners around the country have taken notice that Wichita, the largest city in Kansas, is not only a central site to hold an event, it has 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 such as the new downtown Riverfront Stadium that is home to Triple-A baseball, 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, 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.

Get to Know Brian

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 he's 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. 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. No matter the event, the Wichita community loves their sports and event planners can see that firsthand when they bring an event to town.

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 Riverfront 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.

Get to Know Josh

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"

Kelli Elmore

Kelli Elmore, Sports Event Manager

What are sports event planners most impressed with after hosting in Wichita for the first time?
We are a very family-friendly city, with a ton of affordable options, which makes it easy to take Wichita to the board as a potential host.

What is a Wichita amenity most appreciated by sports planners?
Close proximity to everything around Wichita. Most events that take place downtown not only have the options of everything to do within the downtown and Delano areas, they are also close to shopping and dining on both the east and west sides of town.

Name an under-the-radar Wichita sports facility:
Stryker Sports Complex has been recently renovated, offering 11 turf soccer fields, all with lights, including a championship field and an indoor field. I also think the new baseball stadium downtown will be able to host some really cool events in addition to baseball games that event planners will be surprised to hear about.

What sporting event are people surprised to hear Wichita hosted?
USA Volleyball Nations League is the only stop in the U.S. before these top-level teams head to the Olympics in Tokyo. The committee liked Wichita’s central location, the great facility on the Wichita State University campus and the potential to draw a large crowd to Charles Koch Arena in June. Not only are there strong collegiate volleyball programs within driving distance, there are huge youth volleyball tournaments and groups close to Wichita that will boost attendance. 

Name one Wichita attraction you consider a must-see for out-of-towners:
I love taking people to Wichita’s breweries. Each one has its own unique twist, and the variety of options is impressive.

Get to Know Kelli

First major sports memory:
I missed the first half of the 2008 NCAA Men’s Basketball National Championship game because I was playing high school softball, but we got home in time to see Mario Chalmers hit the game-tying three and then win the game.

Most memorable sports event she’s attended in Wichita:
Wichita State women’s basketball vs. Southwest Missouri State (now Missouri State). I grew up idolizing Jackie Stiles, so even though I should have been rooting for WSU, all I was doing was watching how she played. 

She’s cheering: University of Kansas, Kansas City Chiefs

She’s watching: “A League of Their Own”

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