Former Beatle Paul McCartney plays to sold-out Wichita arena

Former Beatle Paul McCartney plays before 12,500 fans at Intrust Bank Arena on Wednesday night, July 19, 2017.
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Former Beatle Paul McCartney plays before 12,500 fans at Intrust Bank Arena on Wednesday night, July 19, 2017.
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Paul McCartney, Neil Diamond power profits for Intrust Arena

By Dion Lefler

dlefler@wichitaeagle.com

November 11, 2017 10:00 AM

Thanks largely to Paul McCartney and Neil Diamond, the Intrust Bank Arena has more than tripled profit this year.

Those and some other high-priced acts also paced a more than 40 percent increase in the average ticket price at the arena.

Neil Diamond opened his concert in Wichita on Saturday night with “Cherry, Cherry. “ 10,500 fans came out to Intrust Bank Arena to see Diamond on his 50th anniversary tour. (Video by Travis Heying/The Wichita Eagle)

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In a report to Sedgwick County last week, arena management reported total net income just shy of $700,000 through the third quarter of this year, up from $213,000 at this time last year.

The difference is that the arena landed some high-end shows that it didn’t have in 2016, said arena general manager A.J. Boleski.

“Having Paul McCartney and Neil Diamond helped out a lot,” Boleski said. “We also had some other big shows thoughout the year: Red Hot Chili Peppers, Dierks Bentley, Eric Church.”

The average ticket price leapt from $30.31 last year to $43.30 this year, a 43 percent increase, according to the arena report.

“We actually had less shows, but the shows that we did have were more profitable,” Boleski said.

Through the third quarter, the arena held 60 events with 69 performances this year, compared to 67 events and 75 performances last year, the report showed.

Concerts are by far the biggest driver of arena income, accounting for $1.9 million of the arena’s $2.9 million in event income in the first three quarters.

Family shows were the next largest revenue source at $384,000.

Special sporting events brought in $260,000 and the arena’s regular sports tenants, Thunder hockey and Force indoor football, generated $260,000 and $204,000.

SMG, the arena management company, shares profit with Sedgwick County, which owns the arena.

SMG gets the first $400,000 of profit each year and the company and county split anything more than that on a 50-50 basis.

Thousands gathered outside of Intrust Bank Arena in anticipation of Paul McCartney on Wednesday night, July 19, 2017. (Video by Travis Heying/The Wichita Eagle)

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County commissioner Jim Howell said the report shows the arena management is “doing a terrific job” of managing the facility.

On Monday, officials will cut the ribbon on a project to enlarge the north entrance of the arena to speed entry on that end of the building.

Originally considered a secondary entrance, the north doors have become popular for the increasing numbers of arena patrons who now live in Old Town or spend time there before events.

The county and arena management especially wanted to expand the entrance before the arena hosts an NCAA college basketball tournament weekend in March.

“I’m glad that it’s all done and well ahead of the holiday season and well ahead of the NCAA tournament,” said commission Chairman David Unruh.