K-State title sparks purple passion

? Retailers say purple merchandise has been disappearing from store shelves since Kansas State won the Big 12 title over then-No. 1 Oklahoma and fans learned the Wildcats will play in the school’s first-ever Bowl Championship Series game.

“There’s a fever for anything purple,” said Brent Welch, owner of Gameday Sports in Wichita.

Diana Ward, co-owner of Sports Time Fan Shop in Wichita, said she had never seen such a demand for Kansas State merchandise.

The store has sold more than 300 Big 12 championship shirts since the first shipments arrived late Sunday afternoon, Ward said. One hour after Big 12 championship hats arrived Tuesday, the store had sold 36.

In Manhattan, fans have flocked to Varney’s Bookstore in person and via phone and e-mail. The store has sold more than 3,000 Big 12 championship items, said co-owner Jeff Levin. That doesn’t include regular Kansas State merchandise, which also is selling very well.

“It’s been pandemonium,” Levin said. “This has really struck the hearts of K-State fans all over the country. We’re staying up late and waking up early to make sure fans have what they need.”

Many fans are buying gear to wear when they travel to Tempe, Ariz., to watch Kansas State play Ohio State in the Fiesta Bowl. Kansas State already has sold more than 16,000 of its allotted 18,000 tickets for the game.

Jeff Arensdorf, a Kansas State alum and co-owner of Village Tours & Travel of Wichita, said he had booked about 100 people so far for the four-day trip to the Fiesta Bowl. He expects at least 50 more for the round-trip motor coach excursion.

“The interest is more than I anticipated,” he said. “It’s a warm place to go. It’s a big-time bowl game.”