Downtown Wichita events show drawing power

Wichita’s reputation for being a hard place to draw a crowd is at serious risk. Exploration Place’s exhibition of “Star Wars: Where Science Meets Imagination” attracted more than 57,000 visitors between Memorial Day and Labor Day, behind only its earlier “Titanic” and “Our Body: The Universe Within” exhibitions. And Theatre League’s four-week run of Disney’s “The Lion King” at Century II during September made Wichita history for drawing 60,000 people and grossing $4.3 million (compared with the 45,000 who saw the 24-performance run of “Wicked” in 2009). Meanwhile, the Intrust Bank Arena came in 33rd in the country and 67th in the world in third-quarter year-to-date attendance on Pollstar’s ranking of Top 200 Arena Venues, with nearly 125,000 tickets sold. Such numbers demonstrate the size and buying power of the south-central Kansas audience, when presented with what it sees as a compelling reason to come and spend money in downtown Wichita on a traveling show.