Tipoff's still eight days away, but Lynn Parman's already ahead of the game.
The vice president for economic development at the Lawrence Chamber of Commerce has scored all of the 27 tickets she needs for next weekend's Kansas-Oklahoma State basketball game at Allen Fieldhouse.
The tickets -- all of them donated -- will go to visiting site-section consultants, their guests and other area economic-development officials who will be in town to check out Lawrence's office, industrial and other development opportunities.
With the seats secure for the hottest game in town, now Parman and other officials are preparing to take their best shot at boosting Lawrence's place in the country's economic-development standings.
"We want them to feel like they're a part of our team," Parman said. "And that's what we want, too: We want to be a part of their team."
The consultants -- leading site selectors who help companies decide which towns might make a good fit for an expansion or relocation project -- are coming at the invitation of the Kansas Department of Commerce. The goal is to promote the Lawrence area's available sites, livable neighborhoods and overall quality of life.
The high-energy atmosphere of the fieldhouse serves two purposes: showing off the excellence, teamwork and togetherness that characterizes KU basketball, its fans and surrounding community; and serving as a major drawing card to convince consultants to spend a weekend away from home at the end of February.
Parman went to work on the ticket gathering late last year. By Jan. 24 she had collected commitments for a dozen of the 27 tickets needed to get members of the consultant contingent into the big game, where they will receive KU apparel, a visit with Baby Jay and a guided tour of the storied fieldhouse.
Then she appealed to members of the Lawrence-Douglas County Economic Development Board -- including chairman Mike Maddox, a former KU forward who now works as a bank president -- to give up their seats for the cause. She described the chance to spoil the consultants as an "awesome opportunity" to boost the Lawrence area's eco-devo efforts.
The community soon responded. Calls filled her voice mail, with business leaders offering up tickets and other assistance.
All that's left now is to line up some informative tours, hope for nice weather -- and pull for a KU victory.
"The response has been overwhelming," Parman said. "It's really going to make a difference in our ability to be successful in bringing these decision-makers to our community, and it's one further bit of evidence that this community is willing to help and is ready to help economic development.
"I know that once they're in Allen Fieldhouse, regardless of what happens with the outcome of the game, they'll definitely feel the spirit of Lawrence."