For the second time, Wichita has failed to secure a chance to host NCAA mens basketball games. The lure of hosting events like these was a major argument of those who proposed building the arena with taxpayer funds in 2004. Now, let the excuses fly, as the Wichita Eagle reports:
“There’s great competition. Unbelievable competition. It’s even greater than I thought it was. Did you see where the tournaments went to?” was the reaction of Bob Hanson of the Greater Wichita Area Sports Commission. … When the NCAA lowered the size requirement to 10,000 seats, Hanson said, “you’d think we’d have a good chance. I was disappointed. I just know there’s a lot of competition out there, and you have to be realistic about it.”
Sedgwick County Commissioner Dave Unruh:
“The fact that we got turned down is going to be disappointing,” Unruh said. “But we have to take a mature, long-range approach that this just isn’t going to happen overnight.”
Not getting the tournament is disappointing not only for the bid team but “also the citizens of the community,” Unruh said. “ We’re the owners of that thing, and that’s what everyone was hopeful for.
Then, there’s Eagle sportswriter Bob Lutz:
As a strong proponent for building an arena downtown instead of remodeling one out in the boonies, the NCAA basketball tournament was the apple of my eye. I thought for sure that Wichita would elbow its way into the rotation and that once the NCAA saw how well we gussied up that we would forever be in its good graces.
Instead, we can’t seem to get a foot in the door. This is twice now that a bid by Wichita State and other city and county entities to host has been turned down. And you can’t just call somebody with the NCAA and have them explain to you what the issues are. …
It’s going to happen, people. It’s just not going to happen as soon as we would like. Thankfully, Wichitans are a patient lot. I give you Kellogg and the WaterWalk as examples.
I hope Lutz doesn’t really believe that WaterWalk is a success. We can’t afford to pay for more of these.
For more on the finances of Wichita’s Intrust Bank Arena, see Intrust Bank Arena finances: The worst news is hidden.