Photos by Lloyd Brown Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 4.00
Charles Koch Arena 1845 Fairmount St Wichita, KS 67260
Year Opened: 1955
Shockers Shocking Success At Home
Wichita State University is a 15,000-student mid-major university founded in 1895. Basketball has been played at the school almost since its inception, as the first team was started in 1905. The team is known as the Shockers and for most of its history, they were members of the Missouri Valley Conference. In 2017, the school joined the American Athletic Conference, which includes such traditional basketball powers as UConn, the University of Memphis, and Temple University, as well as the University of Tulsa, the longtime rival of WSU.
The home of the Shockers began its life in 1958 as the WSU Arena, then the Levitt Arena for the next 47 years. When it was built, it was considered to be ahead of its time due to its circular seating bowl around the court, earning itself the nickname “The Roundhouse”. The arena went through expansions in 1966, 1967, 1977, 1980, and 2002. Finally, the aging arena went through a near-total teardown and rebuild in 2002-2003, costing more than $25 million. It emerged as the state-of-the-art Koch Arena, with a seating capacity of 10,506.
The basketball team’s success rate since the renovations has been astounding. The Shockers have a home winning percentage of .847 since 2003 and won 43 straight home games in the period of November 2013-February 2016. They have also posted nine seasons with 25 or more wins and four with 30 wins or more. In 2013-2014 the team went undefeated throughout the regular season, compiling a 30-0 record. They were derailed by eventual national champion Kentucky in the NCAA Tournament.
Since moving into the Koch Arena, the Shockers have been the Missouri Valley Conference (MVC) regular season champions six times and the MVC Tournament Champion twice. They have been to the NCAA Tournament seven times with one Final Four and three Sweet Sixteen appearances. In addition, they have gone to the NIT five times, bringing home one championship.
Food & Beverage 4
Koch Arena offers a better-than-average number of food and beverage selections. Due to the arena’s history of sellouts, the renovations made in 2003 put a priority on having enough concession areas to serve more than 10,00 people on an average night, so you should not encounter any long lines.
Televisions at each service point will insure that you do not miss any of the games. The Koch Arena concession menu includes steak subs ($9.50), steak burritos ($9.50), pork sandwiches ($7.50), nachos ($9), chicken salad wraps ($7.50), hot dogs ($5), corn dogs ($4), fries ($4), candy ($4), peanuts ($5), pretzels ($4.50) and popcorn ($4). The facility sells 20 oz. Pepsi products ($4), 20 oz. bottled water ($4), 18 oz. teas ($4.50) and 16 oz. coffee ($2.50). Beer is sold to persons 21 years of age and older, with a 2-beer limit per customer. Brands available include Bud Light, Michelob Ultra, Corona Extra, and of course…. Shock Top!
The atmosphere at WSU games can easily be described as electric. When you enter the arena, you can always expect it to be a full house. The gold and black color scheme of the seating bowl is very eye-catching and the court with the huge wheat shocker logo is dramatic. The major renovation in 2002-2003 and succeeding minor renovations have resulted in a first-class facility. Some of the elements that add to the atmosphere are the 270-foot-long mural atop the concourse that depicts Shocker sports history, a basketball hall of fame, luxury suites a brand new HD scoreboard, and LED lighting throughout the arena.
In recognition of its excellent facilities, Koch Arena has hosted the NCAA Tournament at the Regional or Sub-Regional level seven times since 2003.
Wichita State is on the northeastern side of Wichita, the largest city in Kansas. While a population of 550,000 may not qualify as huge, it does mean that the city offers many of the amenities found in a metropolitan area. Amongst its main attractions are the Old Town entertainment district, and the INTRUST Bank Arena…. Home to the Wichita Thunder AHL hockey team and the Wichita Force Indoor Football team and Botanica, the premier public garden in the state. Keeper of the Plains, a major sculpture saluting the Indian tribes who inhabited Wichita, is also found in the downtown area along the river.
The state of Kansas is a basketball-crazy state and the Shocker fans easily hold their own with their Jayhawk brethren. Through the 2017-2018 season, WSU has had 197 straight games with more than 10,000 fans in attendance and has sold out all but 3 games since 2013.
The fans are loud and proud, as basketball is the premier sport on campus. It is hard to miss a WSU fan as they are decked out in every combination of gold and black available. The favorite cheer at games is WUUUUU- SHOCK, which is also the name of the wheat shock mascot for the team. The student body is known as the Shocker Maniacs and they do their best to distract the opposing team throughout the game. The fans play a major role in the arena’s reputation as one of the top home-court advantages in college basketball.
Wichita State University and Koch Arena are easily accessible via I-135 by taking the 21 Street exit. You will then head east on 21st Street until you reach Hillside. The school will be on your right. Free parking is available on campus near the Levitt Athletic Complex. It is located adjacent to Eck Stadium (baseball) and Cessna Stadium (track and field).
Koch Arena has several entry points, so you should not experience any bottlenecks. The widening of the concourses encircling the arena was widened was a major priority in the 2003 renovations. Aisles within the seating bowl are wide and provide plenty of room to pass and seating allows extra leg room.
Return on Investment 3
The cost of attending a Shockers game is a mixed bag. While parking is free, and the concession prices are reasonable, the cost of a ticket to a WSU game can be sizeable due to the team’s lengthy history of sellouts. You will almost always be buying your tickets off the secondary market, where they will be priced considerably higher than face value. Tickets fall within the $140- $256 range depending on the location in Koch Arena. Another consideration is the cost of a flight into Wichita, which traditionally is one of the most expensive airports in the country.
Before the INTRUST Bank Arena was built in downtown Wichita, Levitt Arena/Koch Arena was the primary concert venue in town. Among the artists who have performed on campus are Elvis, Chicago, Rick Springfield, Willie Nelson, the Oak Ridge Boys, Ray Charles, Neil Diamond, and Eagles.
On a more somber note, the facility hosted a telethon in 1970 to raise funds for the family of victims of both the WSU and Marshall football teams who perished in separate airplane crashes.
A staple of most college students’ diets got its start on the Wichita State campus. Two brothers who were students at the university started Pizza Hut in 1958 to pay their tuition.
The Shocker's primary opponent is the University of Tulsa. Each academic year the two schools compete in Havoc in the Heartland, where each school accumulates points for a victory over the other in all intercollegiate sports.
Wichita is known as the City of Aviation due to the numerous aircraft companies that call it home. Wichita State University has benefitted greatly from these companies’ philanthropy, as facilities on the campus bear the names of Learjet, Cessna, and Bombardier.
A trip to Koch Arena in Wichita will reward you with one of the top mid-major basketball experiences in the Midwest. The team’s move to the American Athletic Conference will only heighten the level of competition moving forward.