Businesses oppose game in writing

Group sends statement to KU that objects to moving MU showdown to Arrowhead

Message delivered.

In case there was any doubt, the Lawrence Chamber of Commerce has made it clear that the city’s business community is upset about a decision to move this season’s Kansas University football game against Missouri to Kansas City’s Arrowhead Stadium.

Lavern Squier, president and CEO of the chamber, said Friday that the group’s board of directors had approved a statement opposing the move.

“I think there is a resignation that the decision already has been made,” Squier said. “But I believe there is some hope that we can minimize the impact or at least not repeat this again.”

KU leaders – who met with the chamber board earlier this week – said they appreciated the feedback. But Jim Marchiony, associate athletic director, stopped short of saying that KU wouldn’t consider moving games in the future.

“Ninety-eight percent of the time, the university and the city will agree on what the best course of action is on any given subject,” Marchiony said. “But there will be times we disagree, and this is one of them. What we’ll do now is work together to try to make this the best situation it can be for the city.”

Squier said the loss of the game is particularly damaging to the Lawrence economy because the contest is scheduled for Thanksgiving weekend, when many game day fans would stay in the city longer to do holiday shopping. Now, they’ll be in Kansas City, Mo.

Squier also said it was unfortunate that KU athletic leaders had not begun discussing the issue with the chamber earlier in the process. Squier said the chamber received just a few days notice from KU that the game might be moved. That was despite the fact that community leaders had expressed concern just two years earlier about KU moving its home football game with Oklahoma to Arrowhead.

Marchiony confirmed that community leaders were given about three or four days notice before the announcement that a move was being considered.

“I’m sure we’ll have the discussion sooner, if there is a next time,” Marchiony said. “There is no guarantee that the decision will go one way or the other after that discussion takes place. I don’t want to mislead anybody.”

Marchiony also said some of the responsibility rests with community leaders to start discussions with KU.

“The phone works both ways, too,” Marchiony said. “Somebody very easily could have called us between the Oklahoma game and now and talked to us about how we can prevent this from happening. I don’t think it should be incumbent upon us, necessarily, for ensuring the conversation gets started.”

KU will receive at least $1 million per year for the next two years as part of the deal to hold the 2007 and 2008 KU/MU games at Arrowhead.

The chamber letter comes after the City Commission in late January agreed to send a letter to the athletic department opposing the move. That letter hasn’t been sent. Mayor Mike Amyx said that he plans to have a draft of the letter on the commission’s agenda Tuesday night for approval.