Sumner County will soon be home to a full-blown regional entertainment destination.
Just a few months ago, the 150', by 300' floor was filled with slot machines, table games, and people as it was home to the temporary casino. In a couple of months, the people will return but they will be setting in front of a stage instead of slot machines and dice.
The casino announced on Monday the first big concert that will be coming to Sumner County this Summer – Nashville recording artist, Tim McGraw will be at the casino in the Kansas Star Arena on July 7. Music won't be the only stye of entertainment featured at the arena.
"We want to have a wide variety of programing for our customers," said Kansas Star Arena Director, Tim Lanier. "The circus, rodeo, motor sports, music, trade shows, whatever we can do to serve our customers and the greater-Wichita area, that's what we're going to do." The Tim McGraw concert won't be the inaugural event at the arena, that will take place on June 29 – details about what that event will be have not been released at the time of publication.
Lanier is no stranger to opening arenas. He worked at similar venues in Fort Worth, Texas, and also opened two arenas – Orleans and South Point in Las Vegas, Nev. He said challenges that came up with those, didn't come up with the Kansas Star.
"It wasn't like we were starting from scratch, it wasn't as challenging as you might think," He said, and pointed out the arena structure was already built. "It wasn't as difficult as it would have been...the architects did a good job." There are about 3,400 fixed seats in the arena, with the addition of removable seating, that number goes up to about 6,000.
The stage will be on the south end of the arena, and will be 40' deep and 60' wide. With other venues in the area, such as Intrust Bank Arena, and Hartman Arena, Lanier said the Kansas Star will aim to offer something different.
"What I've seen from the two arenas that already exist here, they have their niche," Lanier said and added that Intrust is a bigger arena. "I think with the built in sporting events that Hartman has, they have a different niche than we do, they can play to a younger crowd." He said the demographics are different for the Kansas Star.
"It's a multi-purpose venue, it was designed and built to do almost anything you can think of that would go into an arena," said Kansas Star General Manager, Scott Cooper. "We can do rodeos, equestrian events, boxing, MMA, monster trucks...it's just a multi-purpose space." Opening the arena is one step closer to the ultimate vision for the casino.
"When we opened the casino right here, the idea always was we want to be a regional destination," Cooper said. "The opening of this arena, delivers on that commitment and promise, and we're excited about it."
With Kansas Star's parent company, Boyd Gaming's presence in Las Vegas future entertainment acts could be pipelined from there to Sumner County.
"If it makes sense as far as routing goes, we might book an act in Vegas, then book it here," Lanier said. "Kind of get some economy of scale going if we can do that." Ticket prices will vary, based on the event.
Tickets for the Tim McGraw show are set at $77 and will go on sale this Friday, May 24 at www.kansasstararena.com.
"For this bigger name it kind of demanded a higher ticket," Lanier said ticket prices will be lower for the June 29 event. "...We're here to draw business and we're here to be a partner with a community." Just how many events will the arena be home to over the course of the year? Casino officials are still working on those details, but it's clear Sumner County has a genuine entertainment destination with the opening of the Kansas Star Arena.
"You'll get a good sampling over the next six months of what we're going to be," Lanier said.