Did last season's Memorial Stadium crowds whet appetites for Kansas football as much as KU officials whetted their appetites for big crowds?
Early indications are that interest in the Jayhawks has been piqued, ticket manager Bernie Kish says.
"We've gotten a lot of calls unsolicited," Kish said. "We've sold 30 to 35 just from people calling. . .It's out there, and we've got to go get it."
It is season ticket sales, and athletic department officials want a lot of it.
For 1992, regular season-ticket holders bounced from 8,000 to just below 10,000, Kish said. Throw in students with football or all-sports tickets and that number is about 15,000.
Kish would be happy to double that number, thank you very much.
"Mine might be optimistic," Kish said of his sales goal, "but I would really like to get to between 25,000 and 30,000 season-ticket holders."
OPTIMISTIC MIGHT be an understatement, especially for a one-year jump, but the groundwork was laid.
Last year, KU averaged 42,167 fans at its six home games. It won four of those and lost the other two by a combined 11 points.
"A lot of people bought individual game tickets that now want season tickets," said Scott McMichael, associate director of KU's Williams Fund. "It's a step-by-step process. First you've got to get their fannies back into the stands and then you've got to get them interested where they want to buy season tickets."
If those home games didn't interest them, the Aloha Bowl win, national ranking and this coming season's Kickoff Classic berth should have.
So starting in late March, KU officials will cash in some of that capital. Season-ticket sales will begin around the same time as spring football and continue through the summer.
TO PROVE they're serious about selling season passes, KU officials are holding the line on prices this year. The package will rise from $111 to $114 because of a surcharge to help pay for the new Parrott Complex expansion project.
Advertisments will appear on television, radio, billboards and in newspapers (beyond this column, I hope), all pushing KU season tickets.
"We're looking at Johnson County as being our biggest area of growth," said Jill Godfrey, KU's director of promotions. "We'll begin in April with our media push."
Kish also wants to sell more tickets to Lawrence businesses.
"We have 66 business season-ticket holders, and there ought to be 300 to 500," he said. "The Chamber of Commerce estimates that it means $1 million to the community every time there's a football game."
Naturally, there'll be promotions during the season. One will be to get the red out of the Memorial Stadium when Nebraska comes to town by having season-ticket holders buy an extra ducat and give it to a blue-clad KU fan.
OF THE JAYHAWKS' six home dates, three will be designated as Crimson games, when fans will be encouraged to wear red, and three as Blue games, when they'll be asked to wear blue. In case they forget, their tickets will remind them.
KU is going to stick with the south end zone bleachers, where seats will be $5.
But the days of obtaining prime seats on demand are fading.
"People who call for one season ticket, we can probably still find them a good one," Kish said. "But if they call for two or three or four tickets, we're looking at the 10- or 15-yard line."
That, and $114 for a season ticket, is the price you'll pay to watch an up-and-coming college football program on Saturday afternoons.