WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) -- Wichita will host one of the four sites for the 2022 NCAA Sweet Sixteen and Elite Eight. The city earned a regional round bid for the first time in women's basketball history.
This comes four months after Wichita, IntrustBank Arena, and Wichita State hosted the 2018 Men's NCAA first and second rounds.
"The nation was able to see what Wichita has to offer, as far as a basketball community and a sports community," said Brian Hargrove, Executive Director of Sports Development at Visit Wichita. "It was just a first-class event, and I think people at the NCAA and across the country noticed that and hopefully wanted to make it part of the regular rotation."
14,000 people packed Intrust Bank Arena for a free open practice, and 14,390 paid to watch the first session Friday. That, plus the fan-fest on Commerce street, truly impressed the committee.
The tournament will continue promoting the city of Wichita's reputation, and it will also help put Wichita State Women's basketball on the map. The second-year Head Coach Keitha Adams said she got chills when she heard her team could potentially play a Sweet Sixteen on home court.
"I'm sitting there listening to them talk about it, and it plants a seed, it gives us something to dream about, something to put a goal on the board," she said. "But we're working really hard to build our program and the big thing is, we want to work hard to build positive energy about women's basketball."
Adams said the tournament bid is a direct reflection of the great fans in the city.
"You know, the game of basketball was invented where, in Kansas. You see an event like that, it really brings out how much this state is a basketball state. No doubt, Wichita is a basketball city."