Low NBA attendance in Wichita danger sign for Intrust Bank Arena


The Intrust Bank Arena management firm SMG must be wondering what it bit off in Wichita. Last night NBA professional basketball players put sneaker to floor in Wichita for the first time in 14 years, and only an estimated 8,000 fans showed up. (Estimate is by the Wichita Eagle.)

The game was held at the Charles Koch arena on the campus of Wichita State University. That arena has a capacity, according to the goshockers website, of 10,400.

Wichita downtown arena boosters told voters that if we passed the tax, we’d have lots of events like this, and lots of fans would attend. But in this trial run of big-time professional sports in Wichita, the fans that did attend would fill barely more than half of the new downtown Wichita arena.

Arena apologists are likely to come up with a variety of excuses for this embarrassingly poor turnout: It was only an exhibition game. It wasn’t at the downtown arena. It wasn’t the right teams. It was drizzling rain. There will always be excuses.

The citizens of Sedgwick County are going to have to hope that the Intrust Bank Arena can do a better job drawing fans. Even though the SMG contract puts that firm on the hook for losses, that contract has a lot of ways for SMG to wiggle out, even before its five year management term expires. Ultimately, it is the Sedgwick County taxpayer who is financially responsible for the arena, and it is they who must hope for success.


9 responses to “Low NBA attendance in Wichita danger sign for Intrust Bank Arena”

  1. Anonymous

    Jeez, they haven’t even had ONE EVENT at the new arena, and it’s a failure because of an event at WSU, managed by an entirely different organization?

  2. Joe Williams

    It was just an expo game. It’s not the real deal at all. It’s not an excuse. The expo game to be played in KC will be tomorrow and they don’t expect more than 12,000, which can seat 19,000. Barely 12,000 showed up last year when KC had an expo game.

    All in all, I say that it was a great success considering a HUGE turnout for an expo game here in Wichita.

    It’s all in perspective. I don’t understand these sore-losing arena haters have. They are just begging for an “I told you so” moment, but they’ll never get one. Sure, they will take every opportunity for it; Like: “It didn’t sell out.” “They cannot get NCAA hosting” “8000 attendance is a poor turn-out”.

    It’s going to be fun.

  3. Thomas Witt


    I’m not an “arena apologist” (I voted against it), but this is ridiculous. A mid-week game that doesn’t count, and not even at the arena, is not an objective standard by which to judge the future success or failure of anything but mid-week games that don’t count that are played at WSU.

  4. Randy Ficken

    Give the damn arena a chance to open. It’s all this naysaying BS that is getting to be a royal pain in the butt!!!

    First of all the event was not well advertised. I was there but didn’t know anything about it until my son stumbled on a promo for it. It was a GREAT evening and yes, it’s too bad that it wasn’t a full house. People in Wichita complain about nothing to do and nothing comes to town…this is why.

    So, instead of sitting around on our fat rears bitching about the arena, lets put some effort as a community to help support it

  5. Toldya So

    Randy: Its been all over antenna TV for two weeks. The people that get sucked in by cable TV only get the Cox ads. You wouldnt believe what a difference that makes. Being part of the going out downtown cartel, you may want to wake up to the fact that this arena has been a fraud since the vote. Tom,Ben and Lucy will again be at the loosing party if they keep this attitude. I really like Oletha stepping up for Britt Brown at the commission meeting. Please update your web sight Randy, its p’in off the judge. 13 inch seats,I guess Lucys 12 inch but matches the arena seat. Too bad we all know why its that slim.

  6. BJ

    I guess if I’m an “arena apologist” then you Bob are an arena attacker. Arena attackers are people who still cannot get over the fact that they lost five years ago. They want the arena to fail at all costs so they can tell arena supporters off. I really find it funny that you are already declaring “danger signs” for the arena, but instead of making excuses let’s look at facts Bob. Here’s a little secret and a fact about the arena Bob…..it hasn’t even opened yet.

    My question to you is since the arena has been built, do you want it to succeed or fail? Pretty easy question. My answer is I want it to succeed. Oh and by the way you still owe Bob Lutz an apology for taking his quote out of context about the arena concerning the NCCA tournament.

  7. Mike

    Wow, what shall we do? Shall we tear it down now? Flat-lander idiot! These type of arenas are there for more than one exhibition NBA game a year. And it wasn’t even played there! Put a Laker Vs Celtics game there and it would be standing room only. But, forget the NBA. You’ve got concerts, ice shows, home shows, rodeos, conventions, etc. Just wait until the Shockers play a K-State or KU sometime in the future there. And the NCAA tournament will come here some day. It will just be a little longer than what we wanted. Finally, Wichita has a show case for the city and state! It will pay for its self and it will be an attraction for decades to come! It a first major step in renovating the downtown area. Once this economy turns around many more shops, hotels and businesses will come.

  8. […] publicly-supported arena in downtown Wichita remains a contentious issue. Comments left to a recent post of mine about the arena provide some insight into the thinking of arena tax […]

  9. Steve

    It’s a stupidly boring and tedious exhibition NBA game. 8,000 is a downright miracle.

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