Nearly 15,000 basketball fans are expected to show up at the INTRUST Bank Arena Wednesday. They're there to watch an NBA basketball game between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Dallas Mavericks.
Area organizers hope the success of the game helps them win bids for bigger games in the future. “This community supports sporting events as we've seen with the WSU games whether they're on campus or here and with the NCAA women's and then tonight with the pre-season NBA game,” said AJ Boleski.
“Back when we started talking about this game that was a question- how strong is going to be? The answer is Wichita completely supported it. Very strong. It sold out tonight,” said Boleski.
In the arena's roughly two years in operation, staff have their sights set even higher. They've bid on the 2014-2015 men's NCAA tournament- a big deal for the arena and beyond.
“It brings a lot of people into town and we know what that means- they're going to spend their dollars in Wichita and the surrounding communities. Huge economic impact. That's something we're going to continue to pursue,” said Boleski.
The Wichita Area Sports Commission says the NBA game should help Wichita make its case.
"Hosting college games and university basketball games. That's the biggest thing for us. The more of those we can get the better. But again high profile events like tonight help us awhile,” said Greater Wichita Area Sports Commission president Bob Hanson.
The competition to attract NCAA games is stiff. “We're competing against some great arenas whether it's OKC or Tulsa, Omaha or Kansas City,” said Hanson.
The arena lost a bid to Kansas City for the next tourney, but Hanson's confident they can win the next bid. “If we could get a Kansas, or a Kansas State or WSU or OK or OKC it'd be gangbusters,” said Hanson.
Boleski says he’ll know whether they receive the bid November 1.