On the street
I wouldn’t mind traveling, but I don’t want to pay that much for a ticket. I’d rather watch it on TV.
Kansas University's football team will take the field for the Orange Bowl in less than a month on Jan. 3.
For fans, those 30 days are time to revel in the team's success and make plans to watch the them play in Miami. So far, those in Lawrence seem to be lapping up everything they can get.
Almost within minutes of the announcement that KU was bound for the Orange Bowl, T-shirts popped up on KUStore.com. And this morning, the first local stores started putting out the merchandise as well.
"We're doing our best to get them out of the box right now," said Ryan Owens, manager at Jock's Nitch, 837 Mass. "That's the biggest challenge so far; we're just trying to get them hung as fast as we can."
In fact, some fans helped to unpack the boxes. More than one fan dug in, searching for the perfect shirt to support the Jayhawks.
"We probably have close to 30 different designs coming in. So far we have eight or nine, and we're getting ready to pick up another big load," Owens said Monday afternoon.
Owens said local stores were lucky that adidas can produce some shirts locally, and other vendors have major operations in the area. All that adds up to a wide variety of KU-blue Orange Bowl shirts on local shelves.
Of course, the shirts weren't the only items running up credit card bills Monday. Fans were purchasing tickets at a steady pace as well, said Jim Marchiony, associate athletic director.
Marchiony said KU had about 17,500 tickets available for its fans. About 3,000 of those are available for students to purchase - online only - at a reduced rate of $50.
The rest will go to Williams Fund donors and then regular fans starting later this week. Marchiony said Williams Fund members had pre-ordered between 10,000 and 11,000 tickets.
"We're not close to selling out our allotment," he said, "but orders have been coming steadily since 9 a.m."
Marchiony said most of Monday's orders were from Williams Fund members who bought into the supposition that KU would go to either the Fiesta or Cotton bowls.
Of course, even those with tickets have to find their way to south Florida, and options are quickly evaporating. Over the course of Monday, the cheapest airplane tickets disappeared, driving up the price nearly $200.
At least two travel agencies are offering package deals that could prove attractive to some fans. Travellers Inc., of Lawrence, is offering a three-day trip with airfare and hotel rooms as well as some ground transportation and other incidentals for $1,595.
"There hasn't been an empty phone line since 8 o'clock this morning," said Kent Houk, vice president of sales for Travellers Inc. "The Orange Bowl was almost last on the list, but it seemed to work out. It's a great destination for us and they couldn't have picked a better team to go in there, and I think it will be a great game."
Houk said he expected to enroll between 500 and 1,000 people in the travel package.
Dodds Athletic Tours, which is affiliated with the university, is offering three- and four-day packages, for $1,974 and $1,749. Those are available online at a special KU Orange Bowl site. Those packages include a ticket in addition to what is in the Travellers package.
For those who want to try to find their own prices, some deals can be made. Flights average at least $500, but hotel bargains are available. Travel Web site Orbitz listed hotels within five miles of Dolphin Stadium for as low as $90.
Perhaps the cheapest way to travel would be to pile four people into a car and drive to Miami. The 22-hour, 1,600-mile drive includes going through Kansas City, St. Louis, Nashville, Atlanta and Orlando before arriving in Miami. Driving a car that gets 28 miles per gallon and using the U.S. average fuel price for this week, that would cost about $320 round-trip. Split four ways, it's practically a bargain.
Keeping your friends after that trip, however, may cost extra.