Lawrence motel and hotel managers now are in a position that would usually be unthinkable: They are telling families who want to stay in Lawrence to go elsewhere.
Motels and hotels in Lawrence have been booked for Kansas University's commencement weekend May 18, 19 and 20 for months.
As one hotel manager put it, the chance of reserving a room on that weekend now is as good as seeing the Jayhawks in the Final Four: It's simply too late.
But there is some hope for parents who want to settle temporarily in Lawrence. The Kansas University student housing system is taking reservations in at least one of its residence halls, Joseph R. Pearson.
Kathy Nace, conference coordinator, said JRP had 160 double-occupancy rooms available. So far, Nace has heard from about two dozen families.
But she expects reservations to pick up.
"WE ALWAYS fill JRP," Nace said. "If we need additional space, another hall will be available. The reason we do this is that local hotels and motels fill up, and people have no place to stay. We will provide space for everyone who requests it."
Nace said that she knows of at least one alumnus who usually makes room reservations at a residence hall for graduation weekend. Apparently, she said, the man lived in a residence hall during his undergraduate days and looks forward to returning.
"He really enjoys visiting the campus," Nace said. "It's a trip back to fond memories."
But families must be ready for residence hall life.
"We make sure that they know it won't be a suite," Nace said. "It's just a regular student room with two single beds. Some families asked if three people could stay in a room, and I told them that if we put three beds in a room, there wouldn't be anywhere to walk."
OTHER GUESTS are also finding accommadations crowded.
Jennifer Lane, manager of the Best Western Hallmark Inn, 730 Iowa, said its 60 rooms have been reserved since October. She is advising families to check into Best Westerns in Ottawa, Kansas City, Leavenworth, Olathe or Topeka.
Anywhere but Lawrence.
"We filled up at least by October, but it may have been before that," Lane said. "I think everywhere in Lawrence is filled."
To prepare for the influx of visitors, staffing at the Lawrence Holidome, 200 McDonald Dr., will increase by about 30 percent, said Rich Nathan, general manager. All of the Holidome's 192 rooms have been reserved for about eight months, he said.
Steve Schmidtlein, a desk clerk at Travelodge, 801 Iowa, said he recommended that families go to Topeka.
"Everything in Lawrence has been booked for months," he said.