One year out from NCAA Tournamet, tourism officials prepare to host thousands

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – The 2017 NCAA tournament isn’t even over yet but you can already feel the ‘madness’ on its way to Wichita.

“Intrust Bank Arena is a beautiful facility and when that was built there was a lot of excitement about the possibility of being able to host a NCAA tournament and now we are. So this is a really big deal,” says President and CEO of Visit Wichita Susie Santo.

Hosting the tournament is no easy task. So, organizers from Visit Wichita and the Wichita Sports Commission have had their eye on the hosting cities this year to get prepared for the large crowds.

“Several of us have gone out to the first rounds. We were in Greenville and we were in Tulsa to really learn and watch and observe,

It’s a tournament that is expected to bring thousands of people to Wichita. KSN asked organizers, does Wichita have the space to house everyone?

They say, yes.

“We have over 8,000 rooms in Wichita so we are ready. Anybody that comes to Wichita during that weekend of basketball is going to have a great time,” says Santo.

Here’s what the numbers say. According to stats from the Sports Commission, in Greenville, South Carolina alone, a total of 14,000 people were expected for three sessions of play.

Before the games were even played, the city prepared to accommodate more than 42,000 people, half them were out-of-towners.

With those numbers looming large, a committee is meeting at least once a month to make sure the city is prepared.

Susie Santo says, the city is up for task.

“We have a few new hotels coming online between now and next March so we are going to have the availability to host our guests coming for this tournament,” says Santo.

And that number for available rooms could rise. Two hotels currently being built in Wichita, Tru Hotel by Hilton and also a Hampton Inn. One is projected to be done by the middle of this year and the other by early 2018.


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