Ticket turmoil

Arrowhead seating irks KU fans

Kansas fans wave the wheat following a field goal by Scott Webb in the first half of the Jayhawks' 19-14 victory over Colorado. KU improved to 7-0 with the victory Saturday in Boulder, Colo.

Many Jayhawk season ticket holders who received their KU-MU tickets in the mail this week were surprised to discover that their seats at Arrowhead are nothing like what they have at Memorial Stadium.

Leland Johnson has held KU football season tickets for more than 25 years.

He has sat in his seats under the press box at Memorial Stadium for virtually every game, arriving before kickoff and not leaving until the band has concluded “Home on the Range.”

But Wednesday, the Goddard resident received his tickets to the Nov. 24 KU-MU game at Arrowhead Stadium, and he’s disappointed. His seats in the 65th row at Memorial Stadium on the 40-yard line have moved to the goal line, row 11, at Arrowhead Stadium.

“I have a wife who doesn’t have good health. (Our seats at Memorial Stadium) are out of the way and the weather,” Johnson said. “There aren’t many seats at Arrowhead that have the same situation.”

Make no mistake, he’s not bitter toward the Jayhawks. In fact, he’s still deciding whether he can go to the game, all things considered. But he’s one of several fans who have taken to online message boards and letters to the editor to express their dissatisfaction with the process for seating Arrowhead Stadium.

Ronda Davis, of Lawrence, has family zone tickets in Memorial Stadium, meaning her seats are in the bowl at Memorial Stadium. At Arrowhead, her seats are in the upper deck corner, though instead of getting two adult and two youth tickets, family zone ticket holders received four adult tickets.

She wasn’t expecting the best seats, but after sitting behind the goal posts when Kansas took on Oklahoma at Arrowhead in 2005, Davis expected her seats would be about as good.

“I could have accepted third level behind the goal posts, but in the corner?” she asked. “You can’t get much worse than that.”

Anger at Chiefs

But more than anything, both Johnson are Davis are irked that Kansas City Chiefs season ticket holders had first choice on any seats. A number of Chiefs season ticket holders will have tickets in the lower bowl, along with 13,500 KU and the same number of MU fans.

“It really bothers you. As a KU season ticket holder, I never get to go to a Chiefs game and get better seats,” Davis said. “I don’t see how being a Chiefs season ticket holder has anything to do with the KU-MU game.”

Davis is giving her KU-MU tickets to a friend who hasn’t been able to attend a game this year.

The provision allowing Chiefs season ticket holders to buy seats was part of the agreement worked out among KU, MU and the Chiefs. The group of Chiefs season ticket holders with seats in the lower bowl, KU students, the KU band, the athletic department and guests of the football program account for most of KU’s block of 13,500 lower-levels seats.

KU Associate Athletic Director Jim Marchiony said a limited number of KU season ticket holders were given seats in the lower bowl, but with nearly 32,000 season tickets sold this year, most season ticket holders wound up in the upper deck.

“It was all based on points (donations to the athletic department’s Williams Fund),” Marchiony said. “Whoever has the most points, they are put into the best seats. We work down from there.”

Marchiony said part of the reason some people are higher up this year is donors told KU after the Oklahoma game that they’d rather be closer to the field instead of along the 40- or 50-yard line. When KU played OU, the athletic department tried to keep people near the 50, rather than near the field. In addition, for the KU-OU game, KU had all of the tickets in the lower bowl. This year, more than half went to the Chiefs and MU.

Total sales

All told, KU sold between 40,000 and 45,000 of the tickets to the game. Figuring in the Chiefs’ 20,000 tickets, that leaves about 20,000 seats sold by MU, though Marchiony said some of those tickets were sold to the public through Ticketmaster.

Marchiony also noted that for the most part, KU and MU fans would not be mixed in the upper deck; each school gets sections for its fans. The lower level is split evenly along the 50-yard line.

While this year, considered a KU “home game,” seems to have left some Kansas fans with seats they don’t desire, a similar approach will be used to assign seats for MU’s “home game” next year. Marchiony said KU was considering whether it could offer KU-MU tickets as part of its season ticket package next year, or how many seats the university would be able to sell.