One of the best things Kansas University’s new athletic director could do would be to announce that he is in favor of returning the annual Kansas-Missouri football game to the two university campuses. It appears that Bubba Cunningham of the University of Tulsa will move into the AD’s position.
It’s time to the game out of Kansas City’s Arrowhead Stadium and bring the 119-year-old rivalry back to the university stadiums.
Kansas City officials and owners of the Kansas City Chiefs tried for years to get the historic rivalry into Arrowhead, but both Kansas and Missouri officials were reluctant to move to Kansas City. Missouri officials initially said they would play the game in Kansas City IF the game would replace the one normally scheduled for KU’s Memorial Stadium, but they wanted their “home game” played in Columbia. Chiefs officials kept up the pressure and eventually convinced former AD Lew Perkins and Chancellor Robert Hemenway to make the switch.
Currently, the series in Kansas City is due to end after the 2012 game, and already, Kansas City business and sports leaders are working on plans to keep the game in Arrowhead Stadium.
The game is big money for Kansas City. Sales tax revenues for both the city and county and increased business for hotels, restaurants and retail stores add millions of dollars in Christmas-season sales. Also, there’s the money collected for parking fees, concessions and tickets at Arrowhead.
Reports indicate Missouri officials are ready to bring the game back to their campus although nothing has been said by KU officials, who first initiated the move to Kansas City. In Lawrence, the move was looked upon as a signal KU officials were not doing what they could to support local merchants and did not care about the national publicity that a game in Memorial Stadium generates for KU and Lawrence.
In recent years, KU athletic officials have gradually separated themselves from the Lawrence community. In good times, as well as bad times, local support for KU teams has been excellent, but when there is high interest and KU teams are winning, it seems KU athletic officials, and perhaps chancellors, have been willing to move the KU-MU football game out of Lawrence and schedule several KU basketball games in Kansas City’s Sprint Center.
The new athletic director could make a huge hit with Lawrence merchants, as well as thousands of long-time KU fans around the state, by announcing that he or she favors bringing the heated contest back where in belongs: KU’s Memorial Stadium and Missouri’s Faurot Field.
Kansas City is sure to put up a tough fight, citing many reasons the game should be played in Arrowhead, but a quick announcement by the KU athletic director would be a timely and effective move. It’s an ideal opportunity for the new athletic boss and the chancellor to show their appreciation for Lawrence’s support and the importance of college athletics being played on college campuses.