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Archive for Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Woodling: Tickets for the taking

July 25, 2006

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Ah, those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer, those days of soda, pretzels and Kansas University season football ticket sales.

If this is late July, then you know the native grasses are turning brown, the Kansas River is low, and KU has plenty of season football tickets remaining.

Rarely is there an urgency in July to purchase seats for September, October and November games. Sales are market-driven, and more often than not the market is bearish.

In the summer of 1978, for instance, KU officials paraphrased a popular movie of the period by trumpeting the slogan: "Saturday Afternoon Fever. Catch It."

Then, after the Jayhawks staggered to a 1-10 record that fall, a press box wag quipped that fans indeed had caught the fever, that KU football had made them sick.

Still, at Kansas, slogans are as much a part of season football tickets sales as scorching temperatures. Every year, it seems, KU comes up with a catchy new one. But not this year. They've recycled last year's "Where Will You Be on Game Day?"

Busy lives lead to conflicts, and, with seven home games, many KU football fans won't be able to attend every kickoff at Memorial Stadium. So instead of buying season tickets, they wait to purchase single-game tickets. Obviously, that's not something you can do at places like Nebraska, Texas, Oklahoma and other tradition-rich programs where season tickets are the only option. But you can do it here.

Not until Aug. 1, however.

In fact, the full-color brochure sent out earlier this summer to past KU football ticket buyers contains no information about single-game ticket sales. The brochure touts season tickets and season tickets only.

Curiously, though, the brochure does not trumpet the considerable amount of money a season-ticket purchaser will save. I called the KU ticket office Monday and was told single-game reserved seats will be $35 for the three nonconference games, $45 for Texas A&M, Colorado and Oklahoma State and a whopping $65 for the Kansas State game.

By my calculations, that's $305 if you buy a ticket to all seven games separately. Yet a season ticket sells for just $225. That's a savings of $80 - $160 if you buy two season tickets for $450.

In essence, season-ticket holders are receiving one conference game and one nonconference game for free. Or looking at it another way, the cost of a Kansas State ticket plus the $15 handling fee for ordering by telephone.

In terms of weather, KU appears to have an ideal home schedule with three games in September - all with 6 p.m. kickoffs to alleviate probable heat - and three in October, the quintessential football month.

The lone November game is against Kansas State, and it's much better to have a traditional rival as a potential cold-weather foe - monetarily speaking - than, for instance, Iowa State or Oklahoma State.

Still, it may be risky to charge $65 for a game in mid-November even if it is Kansas State because the bloom may be off the violet in Manhattan, and by then the K-State legions may be less prone to purchase a premium pasteboard.

The question is: When single-game tickets go on sale Aug. 1, will K-State fans pay the piper, or will they wait to see which way the wind is blowing?

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