Kansas Arena Gets Unusual Makeover

Britt Brown Arena at the former Kansas Coliseum in Wichita is in for an unconventional repurposing as a facility for full-scale structural testing by the National Institute of Aviation Research.

NIAR Executive Director John Tomblin told the Wichita Eagle the institute hopes to have a lease agreement hammered out soon with Wichita developer Johnny Stevens, who is buying the arena and the Kansas Pavilions from Sedgwick County for $1.5 million.

Tomblin told the paper he expects NIAR to do about $15 million of contract work each year there for three to four years.
The arena closed in 2010, after Intrust Bank Arena opened. It might not be hosting concerts any more, but Tomblin believes the building is the ideal venue for NIAR, which is located at Wichita State University.

“What’s attractive about the Coliseum is we needed a very high roof,” Tomblin told the Eagle. “We also need the clear span.”

Plans call for removal of the arena’s roof and seating area, and a door will be enlarged to accommodate aircraft, rather than trucks.