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Archive for Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Delayed reaction

Communication appears to be lacking between Kansas University and Lawrence’s business community.

February 13, 2007

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As it should, the Lawrence Chamber of Commerce has taken an official position opposing the move of this year's Kansas-Missouri football game to Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City.

It's curious, however, that chamber officials seemed to have been taken by surprise by the action given that two Kansas University officials who would have been actively involved in the decision are members of the chamber's board of directors.

The KU chancellor holds a permanent seat on the chamber board, and Jim Marchiony, associate athletic director, is in the middle of his board term. And yet, both Marchiony and Chamber CEO Lavern Squier said the chamber and other community leaders only learned three or four days before the announcement that the game was being moved. As it was, the chamber board didn't take an official position on the action until about two weeks after the announcement.

Marchiony said that discussion of moving any future KU football games might take place sooner, but there is no guarantee that the opinion of Lawrence business leaders will sway KU's decision. Although Squier complained about the lack of notice about moving the game, Marchiony pointed out that community leaders also could have initiated such a conversation. "The phone works both ways," he said.

Given the fact that the Kansas-Oklahoma game was moved to Arrowhead in 2005, it's true chamber leaders should have been more alert to an issue that seemed likely to return to the university's agenda. Moving a home football game - especially the game to be played on Thanksgiving weekend, one of the year's biggest shopping days - is a matter of great concern to chamber members.

Rather than pointing fingers after the fact, it would have been far more productive for chamber and university officials to come together before any decision was reached to discuss the impact on the business community. The lack of communication seems to indicate that the chamber wasn't on top of an issue that should have been on its radar screen and that KU officials - even those who are members of the chamber board - weren't really interested in finding out what the business community thought of their plan to move the Kansas-Missouri game.

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