It’s crunch time for Intrust Bank Arena in Wichita as crews finish the final preparations for next week’s NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament games.
This weekend, crews will be installing the NCAA’s hardwood court that arrived in Wichita this week. Carpet and seating will be added around the perimeter of the court. Most of the signage inside the arena will be covered.
Intrust and SMG General Manager A.J. Boleski says planning started in 2014 when Wichita was selected to host the games.
"We’ve been talking about it for a long time, so we are ready to put it in motion and make it happen. We have 42 full-time staff and about 400 part-time staff, and then we get a lot of help from contractors as well. It’s going to be a fun, fun week," Boleski says.
A storage room is just about ready to be the "media room" for the dozens of national and local journalists who will be working the tournament. Boleski says they’ve been moving items out of the 5,000 square-foot storage room for the past six to eight months.
Crews also cleaned up the landscaping surrounding the arena, added new outdoor signs and improved lighting. A “Welcome to Wichita” banner was installed on the south side of the arena on Wednesday.
"So the games will be played here, but the community has just really rallied behind this and jumped on board. There’s pretty much a party being planned for every lot across the street from the arena I believe at this point," Boleski says.
He says NCAA representatives will walk through Intrust Bank Arena Tuesday evening for a final check.
Wednesday is practice day for the eight teams. It is free and open to the public.
The first- and second-round games of the NCAA tournament will take place Thursday and Saturday.
The games are sold out, so the arena will likely reach its capacity of 15,400 people in attendance. Boleski says the tournament will be one of the biggest events to be held at Intrust Bank Arena since it opened in 2010.
Intrust hosted games for the NCAA women's basketball tournament in 2011. The men's tournament hasn’t been in Wichita since 1994.
Follow Deborah Shaar on Twitter @deborahshaar.
To contact KMUW News or to send in a news tip, reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org.