Archive for Thursday, February 3, 2005

Football seating to be based on points

Controversial system used in Allen Fieldhouse not expected to raise as many hackles at Memorial Stadium

February 3, 2005


Now, it's football's turn.

Kansas University Athletic Director Lew Perkins last week sent letters to several thousand football fans, reminding them that next season's seating at Memorial Stadium will be based on the priority point system used to distribute this year's men's basketball season tickets.

Later this month, season ticket holders will be sent a map of Memorial Stadium with an estimate how many points will be needed to sit in each section.

The process for determining who will sit in which seats is expected to begin in May. Those with the most points will get the best seats.

Points are based on several factors, including donations to the athletic department, membership in the KU Alumni Association, past season-ticket purchases and contributions to the university at large.

Point totals are the same for football and basketball.

"It's the exact same system," said Associate Athletic Director Jim Marchiony. "If you have 1,000 points, you have 1,000 points. There's no such thing as basketball points or football points; points are points."

Point totals for football season tickets will be calculated April 22, so ticket holders wishing to improve their point status have until then to pony up more money.

The point system is meant to reward donors and increase athletic department revenues. Since last summer, donations tied to the men's basketball tickets have generated an additional $8 million for the department.

It's also proved controversial. Hundreds of fans accustomed to a seating formula based on longevity and timely payments learned they had to put up tens of thousands of dollars to hold onto the their seats.

Reseating Memorial Stadium isn't expected to raise as much ire.

"We'll be doing some things a little differently," Marchiony said, noting that fans who've had football season tickets for at least 15 years will be guaranteed seats between the 20-yard lines.

"We are fully aware that many season ticket holders have remained loyal fans through some lean years, and we want to thank them for that loyalty," Marchiony said.

A similar guarantee could not be extended to basketball fans, he said, because Allen Fieldhouse seats fewer fans than Memorial Stadium and because few football games sell out.

Points, to be determined this spring, are based on several factors, including donations to the athletic department, membership in the KU Alumni Association, past season-ticket purchases and contributions to the university at large.Those with the most points will get the best seats.Point totals are the same for football and basketball.

Last year, one football game, KU vs. Kansas State University, sold out.

The seating guarantee applies only to football season ticket holders who are members of the athletic department's Williams Education Fund.

Last year, about 4,000 of the 12,500 season tickets were held by fans who were not Williams Fund members. Memorial Stadium seats 50,000.

Membership in the fund requires a minimum $100 contribution. A single season ticket sells for $225.

Also, plans call for:

l Expanding reduced-price, family-zone seating in the north end zone to 6,000 seats from 4,000 seats;

l Moving fans for the visiting teams from the northeast corner of the stadium to the southeast corner;

l Moving the student section from the south side of the 50-yard line to the north side. The nonstudent section on the north side will be moved to the south side.

"There have been some -- not many, but a few -- incidents between students and the visiting fans," Marchiony said, "so we're trying to be pro-active by separating the two."

Donors whose point totals entitle them to better seats won't have to move if they prefer to keep their current seats.

KU faculty, staff and retirees are not subject to the point system.

How football fans react to the change remains to be seen.

"To me, it's not a big deal," said 50-year-old George Sabol. "I'm a big fan. I've been going since I was kid. I'll be there no matter what."

But Bill Skepnek, a defensive tackle on the 1970-73 teams, said there's a good chance he'll not renew his tickets.

"I guess I'm a little bit of a populist," said Skepnek, a Lawrence attorney. "I just don't think, philosophically, that a state university should put itself up to the highest bidder, that a wealthy Jayhawk is entitled to a better seat than a less-wealthy Jayhawk or that a less-wealthy Jayhawk is somehow less worthy."

Skepnek said he's had four season tickets for football for about 15 years.

"I'll wait and see what they do," he said. "But I'm not a fan of what they did at Allen Fieldhouse. I gave up my (basketball) tickets."

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