With Kansas University’s basketball season winding down to the final several weeks, sports fans soon will be turning their attention to spring football and the outlook for the Jayhawks in the 2011 season.
Hopefully, KU and Missouri officials will decide not to renew their deal to play the annual KU-MU football game in Kansas City’s Arrowhead Stadium and will return future games to their rightful places: KU’s Memorial Stadium and MU’s Faurot Field.
It is understandable that some Kansas City leaders wanted the game in their city and Arrowhead Stadium and Kansas City Chiefs officials wanted the games played in their professional stadium.
They sold the plan on the idea it would allow more KU and MU fans to attend the game than if it was played in Lawrence or Columbia, but the real kicker was that it would bring additional dollars to Kansas City. Those living elsewhere and coming to KC would generate millions of Christmas season retail dollars, fill hotel rooms and restaurants, contribute sizable tax dollars to Missouri and provide a handsome pay day for Arrowhead Stadium through parking fees and concessions sales.
And the two schools also would receive a handsome check.
KC and Chiefs representatives had tried for years to get MU and KU officials to move the game to Arrowhead. From the outset, KU officials had said “no.” Missouri officials said they would agree to the plan as long as the Kansas City site would be counted as KU’s home game and the game would move back to Columbia when MU was the home team. It wasn’t until Robert Hemenway became KU chancellor and Lew Perkins moved into the athletic director’s office that KU acceded to the wishes of Kansas City leaders.
The most recent four-year contract to play the game in KC will end in 2012, and Kansas City leaders are sure to exert every possible pressure and tactic to continue the game at Arrowhead.
Now is the time for KU officials to stand firm and not be blinded by the promise of dollars or the possibility of using this to win friends in Kansas City. The games should be played on the campuses. Missouri officials could be pressured to play the game in Arrowhead, but KU officials should say “no.” Let the Tigers play their home game with KU in Kansas City, but the Jayhawks will play the historical KU-MU game in Memorial Stadium.