Archive for Sunday, September 19, 2004

Home or away?

Money again may be close to luring a Kansas University football game to Kansas City’s Arrowhead Stadium.

September 19, 2004


Once again, Kansas University athletic officials are visiting with Kansas City Chiefs officials about the possibility of playing a KU football game in Kansas City's Arrowhead Stadium.

Similar discussions have been held in past years. Each time K.C. and Chiefs officials have used the possibility of a large financial pay day and the chance for many KU fans to see the game as reasons for KU to move a "home" game off campus to Kansas City. Each time, KU officials, under considerable pressure, elected to keep the KU game at Memorial Stadium, rather than being lured by the promise of big dollars.

Now, however, with such emphasis by KU officials to raise money, and with money being the dominant factor in KU's current athletic policy, there seems to be a much better chance of KU officials turning their backs on Lawrence and Memorial Stadium and playing next year's game against the University of Oklahoma in Kansas City.

In past years, there have been efforts by Kansas Citians to get the Kansas-Missouri game played in Arrowhead, but Missouri officials were determined to keep their MU-KU home game in Columbia. KU officials were not that opposed to playing in Kansas City, and probably would have agreed to take one of their normal "home" games out of Memorial Stadium. However, there was considerable opposition to such a move, even though the athletic department would have received a substantial check.

One concern about moving a game to K.C. was how thousands of KU students would get to Kansas City. This year, however, KU and Chiefs officials have been clever in considering a game when KU students will be on a fall break, eliminating in large degree the argument about inconveniencing students.

Still, the idea of taking one of KU's "home" games to Kansas City angers and disappoints many long-time, loyal fans. And it certainly upsets local merchants who look forward to the added business generated by crowds attending football games in Lawrence.

If the KU game in Arrowhead is such a good deal, why not have the other team, any Big 12 team, move one of its home games to Kansas City and reap all of the dividends proposed by the Kansas City promoters. Let KU have its regular home schedule of games and play one of their "road" or "away" games in Kansas City.

Why should KU have to be the school and team to give up a home game in Memorial Stadium? Also, when such an emphasis is placed on earning "points" by giving money to the athletic department to secure better seat locations in Allen Fieldhouse and Memorial Stadium, what does it say to those seat-holders when a home game is moved away from campus? What about the suite-holders at Memorial Stadium who have committed substantial sums to watch KU football games?

It is too bad dollars and professionalism have taken over so much of the intercollegiate sports scene.

Apparently, KU officials think dollars are the most important factor, more than keeping the games in a collegiate environment. Many arguments will be offered by KU officials to justify taking a KU home game off Mount Oread. Some will be quick to claim more fans will have a chance to see a KU game in Kansas City and that a televised game will help recruiting.

Regardless, it's dollars that count. If more fans want to see the games, seats usually are available at Memorial Stadium. As for television exposure, a competitive KU team playing good competition will attract the TV cameras whether they play in Kansas City or Lawrence.

The big questions are, how important do KU officials think it is to keep college games on college campuses, how much do they value the historical local support of KU sports, and are dollars the most important factor in the whole equation?

We'll know the answer pretty soon. In addition to the growing possibility of moving a KU game to Kansas City is the growing likelihood of setting a 9 p.m. kickoff for the upcoming KU-Kansas State game in Lawrence. The reason? Television and money.

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