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Archive for Sunday, March 24, 2002

Memorial Stadium party planned today

March 24, 2002

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Concession food, Megavision and welcome-home parties are OK.

Booze, tree-climbing and urinating on campus carpets aren't.

Those are some of the guidelines set by Kansas University's Celebration Taskforce, which is preparing for an influx of Jayhawk fans on campus if the men's basketball team goes to the Final Four.

"We all have pretty high expectations of our team," said Todd Cohen, a KU spokesman. "We also have high expectations of our fans."

If the Jayhawks win today, KU will be host to a celebration at Memorial Stadium after the 1:40 p.m. game. Festivities will start with a live broadcast of the post-game news conference on the Megavision, the giant TV screen above the south end zone.

Repeat broadcasts of the game and the news conference will continue until the team arrives home from Madison, Wis. The Jayhawks are expected to arrive about 9:30 p.m., but that time is subject to change. KU officials estimate that 2,000 to 4,000 fans could attend.

The athletics department is organizing a trivia contest, and stadium concession and souvenir stands will be open.

Bad weather will cancel the Memorial Stadium celebration. If KU loses today, the welcome-home event will be at Allen Fieldhouse.

Plans for next weekend's semifinal and championship games  if they include KU  call for the games to be broadcast live at Memorial Stadium.

"We want to give everybody a safe environment to hang out," said Leslie Heusted, program director for Student Union Activities and a task force member.

The plans, in part, are a response to past celebrations when KU wasn't prepared. In 1988, an estimated 35,000 people stormed campus to celebrate KU's national championship.

Few injuries or accidents occurred. Most damage was to campus trees, though several people were injured by broken glass from bottles.

The scene was different after KU's 1991 loss to Duke in the national championship game.

"In 1991, we only had 10,000 to 15,000 (people on campus), but they were unhappy. They were down," recalled Lt. Schuyler Bailey of the KU Public Safety Office, who was an officer at the time. "There were groups walking around hitting people for no reason. We had three reports of people with a gun in the crowd."

More than 50 people were treated for injuries at Lawrence Memorial Hospital and Watkins Student Health Center, and another 35 were treated by paramedics on the scene. Police removed six to 12 people from campus but made no arrests.

Some fans entered campus buildings and urinated in hallways. Other damage to campus buildings also was reported.

"Having 40,000 people in the center of campus is not something you can ignore, whether they're happy or sad," Cohen said.

This time, university officials are attempting to funnel fans to Memorial Stadium. But an influx of people to other parts of campus might lead to closure of some campus streets. Some buildings also may be locked.

Officials plan to have water for thirsty fans. And they'll be on the lookout for alcohol on campus, which is illegal.

"There's no alcohol allowed. Don't bring it," Bailey said.

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