Archive for Sunday, April 29, 2001

KANSAS UNIVERSITY Ticket plan draws bitterness ––— Fan feels only wealthy will get to watch from Fieldhouse

April 29, 2001


"I wish they would just drop the whole idea, but I know that is not going to happen," said Riehm of Lawrence, who has been a season ticket holder since 1965.

But Kansas University officials say the plan announced last month is more complicated than Riehm supposes.

Nonetheless, when it is all said and done, donations and the size of those donations to the athletic fund will indeed affect, at least partially, who gets tickets and where they will be seated at KU men's basketball games.

KU Athletics Director Bob Frederick said the new plan was needed because the Kansas University Athletics Corp. needs the money. Similar type seating plans have become common for college athletic corporations to raise revenue, he said.

Riehm said those arguments make sense, but that doesn't make them right.

The plan will mean only the wealthy will be allowed in Allen Fieldhouse to watch the Jayhawks play, he said. Everyone else will have to watch on television.

Frederick announced Thursday he will retire June 30. The decision was sparked, in part, because of the athletics department's financial problems, he said.

"The university first and above all else needs to say, 'The ends don't justify the means,'" Riehm said. "They're the Kansas University Jayhawks, not the Kansas University Athletics Corp. Jayhawks."

But Pat Warren, the associate athletics director who is overseeing development of the seating plan, defended it saying it will "reward people who have supported the university and athletic programs."

The plan will involve all of the public seating, about 8,500 seats in the 16,300-seat facility. The remaining seats, allotted to faculty, staff and students, will be left alone.

Without the plan, Warren said, "we're looking at a $1 million deficit in two years."

He said under the corporation's agreement with KU, the business side of athletics is not allowed to run a deficit.

Officials said it is too early to know if the plan is hurting or helping fund-raising efforts by the athletics corporation or the university's endowment association.

Under the plan, "Everyone will have the opportunity to remain in their seats that they have right now. But it's possible they will be asked to give more," he said.

How much more? He said the cost is unknown at this time.

He also said other factors , such as ticket-purchasing history in other sports and KU programs, will be taken into consideration when determining who gets what seats.

He said the school likely will develop or purchase computer software "to determine where people are in whatever system we develop."

Whatever is developed, he said, won't be carried out until the 2003-2004 season.

Warren said he has received generally positive response to the proposal and gets about one telephone call a day from fans asking questions about it.

"The bottom line on all this is we are trying to operate the best kind of athletic department," he said.

But for Riehm, the proposal is taking the fun out of the game. Riehm said he foresees the day when Allen Fieldhouse, a building paid for by Kansas taxpayers, is taken over by "wealthy Missourians buying their way into seats."

"It's bad public policy," he said.

-- Staff writer Scott Rothschild can be reached at 832-7221 or

(785) 354-4222.

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