HUTCHINSON, Kan. — The Men’s NJCAA Tourney has been the jewel of Hutchinson for over a half century but much like Salina, they too are feeling the heat to make some changes to keep the tourney there.
For more than 60 years, the sports arena in Hutchinson has been common place every March for the NJCAA Men’s Tournament.
The 7,000 seat venue was built in 1952 and last renovated in 1981. After the 2013 Tourney, executives said it was time to look at long term plans the city had for the arena in deciding whether to keep the tourney past it’s current contract.
“We talked about things like restroom upgrades, locker room upgrades, media space, hospitality space,” John Deardoff, city manager Hutchinson.
Deardoff says it’s upgrades the city is planning on doing, ones that will cause for an adjustment in the local budget and some taxpayer dollars to complete.
“The list that architects are going to develop is going to be multi-millions of dollars and we’re just going to have to pair down and prioritize to see what our community can afford,” said Deardoff.
The city’s Convention and Visitors Bureau says the tourney is a boom for the local economy on a yearly basis.
“Last years tournament in 2013, it was about $1.3 million,” said Deardoff.
CVB Director LeAnn Cox says while they don’t feel some of the drawbacks the town has, such as a lack of an airport to fly teams in would be a selling point to move the tourney elsewhere, she says it’s important that the necessary improvements are made. Which is why the city is committed to upgrading it’s facility.
“If we simply turned our head the other way and said it is what it is, we’d be in jeopardy of having to compete,” said Cox.
The city of Hutchinson is in the process of developing a master plan to figure out what improvements can be made to the sports arena and how much they will cost.