The Intrust Bank Arena in downtown Wichita has landed NCAA women’s basketball first- and second-round tournament games in 2011.
Recently, the NCAA bypassed the Wichita arena when selecting sites for men’s NCAA games. On KAKE TV, arena manager Chris Presson said women’s games are a testing ground for something “perceived to be bigger. … Certainly the women’s to us is as big as the men’s and is as big a deal to us as the men’s would be. We’re more than content, more than happy with what we’ve got.”
According to Associated Press reporting from earlier this year, “The first two rounds drew an average of 4,100 people.” The Wichita Eagle reports 4,915 averages attendance for all tournament games.
Is Presson being reasonable: women’s games, at 4,100 per game, are equivalent to men’s games, which are likely to sell out the arena? It’s his job to promote the arena, but statements like this are not reasonable.
The 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 supporters.
One comment writer said that instead of complaining, I should be supporting the arena. He may have forgotten the extra sales tax that I contributed to pay for the arena. Doesn’t that count?
Another wrote: “My question to you is since the arena has been built, do you want it to succeed or fail?” I guess this writer didn’t read the final sentence of the post, which is: “Ultimately, it is the Sedgwick County taxpayer who is financially responsible for the arena, and it is they who must hope for success.”
So yes, I do hope that the arena is a success. As someone who is opposed to taxation — that’s why I opposed the arena sales tax ballot measure — I sincerely hope that tax revenues are not required to support the arena. Arena tax supporters have already shown that they’re willing to tax one person to build a playhouse for themselves, so I don’t suspect they’ll be opposed to future tax support of the arena, should it become necessary.