NCAA Tournament Could Bring $10 Million To Wichita — And Something Much More Valuable

Mar 16, 2018

The NCAA tournament is expected to bring in $10 million dollars to Wichita’s economy, according to the city.

“It’s a really huge thing for any city that gets to host the NCAA,” says Susie Santo, the president of Visit Wichita. “We are expecting thousands of folks to come in. The arena holds 15,000 and it’s going to be rocking."

That money is coming from fans eating at restaurants, staying in hotels, purchasing tickets, shopping, and more. (And ordering lots of beer.)

But that $10 million is hard to pin down with multiple complex factors to consider. The estimate was done well before it was known who was going to be playing in the tournament — KU fans in Wichita to support their team may spend less time in town since it’s easier for them to drive back to Lawrence than fans from teams farther away. That could mean fewer hotel sales.

The number should be considered more of a ballpark measure, says Jeremy Hill, the director of Wichita State University’s Center for Economic Development and Business Research.

“The purpose of those types of impact [studies] is to promote excitement," he says. Hill says the CEDBR has not done an analysis of the city’s impact study.

But beyond a specific dollar amount spent this week, Hill says the NCAA tournament could have a much wider impact — it’s a chance for Wichita to prove itself on the national stage.

“You have another 361 days of the year,” says Hill. “If we do [the tournament] successfully, then that means there are other events that are going to be perceived better and we’ll have more tourism opportunities — more tax dollars that will be consumed through the rest of the year than we could possibly in the four-day event.”

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Stephan Bisaha is an education reporter for KMUW’s Kansas News Service, a collaboration of KMUW, Kansas Public Radio, KCUR and High Plains Public Radio covering health, education and politics. Follow him on Twitter @SteveBisaha.