Kansas Athletics Inc. made a $1.23 million profit from the Oct. 15 home football game against Oklahoma that it moved to Arrowhead Stadium, an athletics official said.
That profit is about $511,000 higher than a comparable high-profile Big 12 Conference game it played two weeks later at Memorial Stadium in Lawrence, said Jim Marchiony, an associate athletics director. The Missouri game generated a $719,000 profit.
By playing at Arrowhead, against an opponent whose fans traditionally travel well, KU was able to bank on increased ticket sales at higher prices, he said.
But with the shift to Arrowhead prompting plenty of emotion on both sides of the issue, KU officials said they'll take decisions about future moves one game at a time.
Kansas City-area alumni were happy about the Oklahoma game being played closer to home, and Lawrence merchants were irate about missing out on potential sales from Sooner fan out-of-towners.
"I would say it was a successful experiment," Marchiony said this week. "I think we chose the right game. But there are a lot of factors that go into whether we'll do it again."
The decision about future games will fall to Lew Perkins, athletics director, after consulting with a variety of interest groups, Marchiony said.
"We'll talk to a lot of people," Marchiony said. "We'll talk to the university administration. We'll talk to students. We'll talk to season ticket holders. We'll talk to people in the football program. We'll talk to businesses in Lawrence. Then we'll make the decision that's best for our football program."
The Oklahoma game drew 54,109 fans to Arrowhead Stadium, while 48,238 attended the Missouri game in Lawrence.
More tickets, more money
KU sold 6,688 more full-price tickets for the Oklahoma game than it did for Missouri, Marchiony said, and that meant -- at $55 a ticket -- another $367,480 for KU.
By playing at Arrowhead, KU also managed to avoid charging a ticket surcharge that is used to help pay off the debt on upgrades to Memorial Stadium. That surcharge brought in $138,488 for the Missouri game, he said, which KU counts as an expense.
Such advantages accounted for the bulk of the $511,000 difference in profits between the OU and MU games.
Marchiony noted that the Missouri game was a good one in terms of finances. The $719,000 profit compares favorably with last year's $548,000 average for home games against Big 12 Conference opponents, he said.
"Financially, it worked out," Marchiony said. "But it was not solely a financial decision. There are not many games that you could take there (to Arrowhead). Oklahoma is one of them."
At Arrowhead, Kansas Athletics Inc. was responsible for paying about $295,000 to cover stadium rental, ticket takers, cleanup services, portable toilets, on-call emergency services, utilities and other matters.
Athletics officials and selected invitees also were able to enjoy the game from the two-story "gold suite" at Arrowhead, compliments of its owner, Lamar Hunt, owner of the Kansas City Chiefs.
The suite includes a living quarters, a living room area and seats outside, said Annette Teson, director of special events at Arrowhead. The KU party also had access to the adjacent complex used by Carl Peterson, the Chiefs' general manager.
"We don't charge an extra fee for it; it's such a great place to watch a game," Teson said. "Lamar Hunt loves college football and supporting college football. And we love it. We'd fill our stadium every day if we could, because it's such a wonderful facility."
And, she acknowledged, "it's good financially."
The Chiefs kept all revenues from concessions and parking generated by the Oklahoma game. Teson declined to disclose the totals.
Donna Hultine, KU director of parking services, certainly missed the parking revenue. Her department gets about $800,000 a year -- or 20 percent of its annual revenue -- from athletics events.
Pass on parking
The department has 3,256 on-campus spaces for football games. At $10 per space -- 3,043 reserved for members of the Williams Fund, and 213 for the public -- that's $32,560 that she won't be able to recover.
Her expenses for the Missouri game came to $4,383, an investment she gladly makes to collect additional revenue.
"We sell out every home game," she said. "The more I can spread out my revenue stream, the cheaper I can keep permits for students, faculty and staff."
Marchiony, meanwhile, emphasized that the initial decision to move the Oklahoma game to Arrowhead went beyond finances. The shift brought the Jayhawks closer to 70,000 alumni in the Kansas City metro area, and a chance to boost the program's recruiting profile, both in the Kansas City area and beyond.
"And the kids loved it," Marchiony said. "They absolutely loved playing there."
Whether KU will make a play to move a conference game next year to Arrowhead remains to be seen. Kansas State is the only premium-ticket conference opponent scheduled visit next season, Marchiony said.
"We're not under the gun to make a decision," he said. "We don't have to do it in the next week. We're not going to rush into it."
KU lost the Oklahoma game and beat Missouri.