Jayhawks floating on cloud nine as city prepares for national title game
The morning after Kansas University’s 64-62 victory over Ohio State University, city of Lawrence cleanup crews had erased most of the footprint left by the thousands of fans who swarmed downtown.
However, a sign taped to the door of the Jackpot, 943 Mass., on Sunday was a small reminder of the celebration.
“Opening a bit late today. Everyone has a hangover. Ha Ha.”
But the celebration had no aftereffect on the patrons who filled Jock’s Nitch Sporting Goods, 837 Mass., to grab KU gear as early as 10:30 a.m. Sunday. On Saturday night, the business began selling T-shirts right after the victory and remained open until after midnight.
“It’s been insane; we can’t keep up,” said Ryan Owens, general manager.
The store is currently waiting on shirts reflecting Saturday’s victory to arrive, but Owens said they already have preprinted shirts to sell if KU should beat the University of Kentucky tonight. If Kansas loses, Owens said, the shirts must be destroyed or donated to a charity outside the United States. He said the store has sold more shirts than it did in 2008, which he attributes to Kansas’ underdog status this year.
A few television news trucks were on Massachusetts Street on Sunday, likely reporting on Saturday night’s comeback win. The Final Four anticipation and first-round victory extended downtown’s surreal atmosphere for another two days, and fans, businesses and city officials have started planning for tonight’s game and another potential celebration.
Chris Bianculli, of Lawrence, had to watch Saturday’s game at a wedding reception. Although he was able to make it to downtown after the game, he said he plans on watching the entire game downtown tonight. He watched both 2008 Final Four games at a packed Granada, 1020 Mass., and said the experience was “awesome.”
Sam Carmean, manager of Wayne and Larry’s, 933 Iowa, said he expects the restaurant to start filling up as early as 3 p.m. today, based on Saturday’s turnout. He said the restaurant will seat people on a first come, first serve basis.
Patrons will also have to arrive early to secure seating at Jefferson’s Restaurant, 743 Mass. Tim Barnes, manager, said the restaurant will treat tonight like any other, albeit busy, night. But if KU wins, the restaurant will stay open until 2 a.m.
While virtually every Lawrence restaurant and bar will be playing the game, fans wishing to watch the game on a bigger screen have several options.
The Granada will play the game on five projector screens inside the venue and will also project the game in an outdoor beer garden on an adjacent lot, according to Hannah Shaw, an employee. Entry to the beer garden is $5, unless you arrive before 3 p.m. Fans can reserve 10-person tables for $250 inside. Shaw said she expects the Granada, like any downtown establishment, to be packed.
“Once Mass. is packed, I feel even the restaurants are going to be at capacity,” Shaw said.
Liberty Hall will also be playing the game on its movie theater screen. Mick Cottin, cinema manager, said almost 700 people watched the game at Liberty Hall on Saturday. Liberty Hall will distribute 650 free tickets at its box office beginning 11 a.m. today. Doors open at 7 p.m.
And if that isn’t a big enough crowd, Allen Fieldhouse will be showing the game on the mid-court video board. Admission is free, and doors open at 7 p.m.
The Oread and Eldridge hotels will also host watch parties. Big 6 Bar and the Crystal Ballroom at the Eldridge will open their doors at 7:32, an hour before tip-off; there is a $5 cover charge. The Oread’s Bird Dog Bar and Five 21 are accepting reservations at $20 per person. The Hancock Ballroom at the Oread will also show the game; doors open at 6:30.
Downtown will be closed to traffic tonight if KU wins. Several hundred law enforcement officers from 10 area agencies will also be on hand. In 2008, the downtown crowd was estimated at 40,000 people following the victory against Memphis.