WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Consider the honeymoon between the AAC Conference and Wichita State University in full swing.
Conference commissioner Michael Aresco is in town, and he is getting a warm reception. First, Aresco stopped by a Rotary function over the lunch hour where he got lots of applause.
“I like Wichita,” said Aresco. “I’ve been to Old Town, and the people here are so great.”
Wichita State University President John Bardo returned the compliments.
“We are very happy and excited about the future with this conference,” said Bardo. “I think there’s no question, if you look at the kind of schools that are there, Houston, Central Florida. these are really big-time schools, and they are in big-time locations. So not only will they bring people physically here but people will start paying attention to us as we get televised.”
Bardo is not alone in being excited over the exposure of a new conference.
Some business leaders are hopeful the excitement will bring business to the area.
Bob Hanson runs the Prairie Fire Marathon an event that brings in thousands to Wichita each year.
“The exposure could bring a lot to the community,” said Hanson. “I think it will after time. People really haven’t been exposed to it (new conference) yet. I mean, they are just coming to town today and a lot of people don’t know a lot about it. But they will as time goes by.”
Hanson says he’s always networking and wonders if the exposure from a new conference will bring in new runners to the Prairie Fire Marathon.
“The conference will bring in new athletes, and new fans, so you just don’t know,” said Hanson.
Some business leaders with the county are asking the same questions, and they are optimistic.
“This new conference affiliation, I believe it brings a much different attention to the city and to the county,” said Sedgwick County Commissioner Jim Howell. “But, I think we’re going to see a lot of attention on Wichita and Sedgwick County, not from people who are just students and just athletes, but I think the general public across the entire nation is taking notice.”
Howell says the county will reach out to anyone who is interested in the Wichita-area. And, while basketball, volleyball and other sports may not seem like a business venture, Howell says it certainly can be just that.
“We will have a whole new set of eyes on the (Wichita) area,” says Howell. “Absolutely, I think we can leverage that.”