GAMES BEGIN: NCAA Tournament guide to downtown Wichita

WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH and AP) Update Thursday night, March 15:

As Houston, San Diego State, Michigan and Montana competed in Thursday's late games of NCAA Tournament first-round action at Wichita's INTRUST Bank Arena, thousands enjoyed the festivities on the streets downtown.

Thursday went off mostly without a hitch. One hiccup occurred inside the arena where a delay in the Michigan Montana game lasted about 10 minutes after the score's table lost power.


Besides watching games, many attended parties. They're able to celebrate later into the night, thanks to some new rules approved by the City of Wichita that let events with a permit go later.

Many local businesses spent years getting ready to set up for the tournament crowd. From the free fan fest to tailgate parties and the block party on Commerce Street, they saw a lot of foot traffic and expect it to continue through Saturday's second-round action.

Thursday afternoon, the Wichita Festivals, Inc. president says at least 4,000 people passed through the fan event, "The Bracket Bash."

"It's been a great day. what a great day to welcome folks to our community," Wichita Festivals, Inc. President Mary Beth Jarvis said Thursday night. "We've had a steady stream of folks all day, a giant crowd right before the KU game, and now everyone is just hanging out to enjoy the wonderful weather and the great Wichita hospitality."

Friday is an off day for the tournament in Wichita, but many events will still be happening. They will continue Saturday when the second round of the NCAA Tournament shares the spotlight with St. Patrick's Day celebrations.

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The first major slate of NCAA Tournament games is set to begin as fans scramble to fill out brackets and get ready for a marathon of college hoops.

Sixteen games are scheduled for Thursday, four of the games will take place right here in Wichita, Kan.

Doors opened at INTRUST Bank Arena at 11 a.m. Kansas and Penn kicked off the first session at 1 p.m. Fans who can't be in the stands can watch on TBS (Cox Cable Ch. 29, Dish Network channel 139, DirecTV channel 247, AT&T U-Verse channel 112.)

N.C. State and Seton will wrap the first session. San Diego State and Houston start the second session at 6:20 p.m. followed by Montana vs. Michigan.

ROAD CLOSURES

Everyone headed downtown for the NCAA experience should be prepared to walk.

Visit Wichita has put together a list of fun fan events taking place in and around the arena this week but that means several streets will be closed.

The main roads affected are Waterman and Emporia, Douglas and St.Francis and Commerce Street, just off of Waterman, across the street from INTRUST Bank Arena.

PARKING

Before you get out of your car, first you'll need to find a place to park.

About an hour before the KU-Penn game parking lots in downtown Wichita started filling up fast.


Free parking is available in four lots including the Old Town parking garage (250 N. Rock Island), the garage in Old Town Square near the Warren Old Town, the Coleman parking lot at 2nd and St. Francis and the Waterwalk garage.

If you want to take a shuttle to the arena, you can park and ride from Lawrence Dumont stadium, the Water Street lot at (899 N. Seneca) or the Waco and First Street lot (151 N. Waco).

On Friday, there will be no free shuttles taking you to the area.

There's also plenty of lots where you can pay to park. You can find that map and list here.

If you plan to take a service like Uber or Lyft, you'll notice specific lanes outside the arena have been designated for ride sharing. They are on the west side of the arena.

But drivers say you may have to pay a little more for your ride.

"We're thinking it's going to be like it was on New Year's Eve with the like of a 5.6 surge," said Brett Hudson, who drives for Uber and Lyft. "Kind of like what it was last week with PINK. PINK got up to 6.2 surge."

Hudson says the designated lot is a good thing so drivers and passengers where pickups and drop-offs will take place.

BAG AND CAMERA POLICY

If you're headed indoors to watch your team play, remember, backpacks, including diaper bags, are not be allowed.

Bags larger than 14-by-14-by-six are also not allowed. Medical bags are the exception to that size restriction.

WATCH PARTIES

Thousands of Shocker fans will be downtown Friday for the WSU watch party.

Brick and Mortar is hosting an even that kicks off at 11 a.m. The venue will provide drinks for fans to buy. The event's Facebook page says tickets are $5 to get into the event.

Allegiant Air is hosting an event at The Hudson Taproom over on Commerce street. The first 150 people will get $100 voucher for travel.