Archive for Friday, October 4, 2013

Fans gather, wait overnight, for Late Night in the Phog

Fans rush through the front doors of Allen Fieldhouse to get a good seat for Late Night in the Phog Friday.

Fans rush through the front doors of Allen Fieldhouse to get a good seat for Late Night in the Phog Friday.

October 4, 2013, 5:35 p.m. Updated October 4, 2013, 9:54 p.m.


Fans go wild during the "Jawhaks in the NBA" part of Late Night in the Phog Friday at Allen Fieldhouse.

Fans go wild during the "Jawhaks in the NBA" part of Late Night in the Phog Friday at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas fans unable to enter pile up at an entrance on the north side of Allen Fieldhouse after the maximum amount had been let in for Late Night in the Phog, Friday, Oct. 4, 2013 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas fans unable to enter pile up at an entrance on the north side of Allen Fieldhouse after the maximum amount had been let in for Late Night in the Phog, Friday, Oct. 4, 2013 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Jayhawk fans erupted into cheers at every chance they got Friday night in Allen Fieldhouse. Applause, yelps and the sounds of noisemakers greeted everything from a Simon Says contest to Bill Self's speech about the upcoming season.

Somewhere between the women's basketball players dancing to "U Can't Touch This" by MC Hammer and comedian Rob Riggle being carried onto the court on a white throne, the 16,000 fans experienced more than a bit of ridiculousness at the 29th annual Late Night in the Phog, a variety show and practice that served as the opening to the 2013-2014 Kansas University basketball season.

As part of the tradition, members of the basketball teams performed skits, the pep band played, other athletics teams were recognized, coaches and players were introduced and the team scrimmaged.

The stands were full to capacity, and thousands were sent away. As many attendees learned Friday, you can't be too early for Late Night.

"How many places in America can you find 25,000 people waiting to get into a gym that holds 16,000?" Self said as he welcomed everyone.

Crowds of fans amassed outside of the Fieldhouse on Friday, and some began setting up tents near the entrance as early as Thursday night to guarantee a good spot for the festivities.

For many, the main draw was scoping out the new talent.

Tim Richard, a freshman from Kansas City, Mo., arrived at the Fieldhouse around 10 p.m. Thursday. He and five friends set up a tent and slept on the ground to save seats for themselves and 20 friends. Around 4 p.m., much of the group was sitting or lying on blankets along the sidewalk, waiting for the doors to open at 5:30.

"I've never been to Late Night before," Richard said. "We want to get good seats near the front."

The payoff would come, Richard said, when he could see the basketball team's freshmen during the scrimmage.

Later, the lights dimmed in the Fieldhouse, and a video titled "Jayhawks in the NBA" began to play on the big screen. Students, alum and fans, including Richard, cheered as their past basketball idols flashed onto the screen. When team members were introduced before the scrimmage, they watched as the new favorites stepped onto the court as Jayhawks for the first time.

"I want to see Wiggins, and Frankamp and Ellis," said Kyle Winston, a freshman from Prairie Village, referring to highly touted freshmen Andrew Wiggins and Conner Frankamp and holdover sophomore Perry Ellis.

Others in attendance just wanted the experience.

Before the event began, Randy Johnson and Ron Weber and their sons, Kansas University sophomores Kaleb Johnson and Reece Weber, chowed down on barbecue. Randy Johnson had provided the food as a thank you to Ron Weber for saving his spot in line.

Johnson, a Lawrence resident, said he was looking forward to his first time at Late Night.

"It's the first time I've been here, and I've lived in Lawrence since '97," Johnson said. "I'm looking forward to the skits and to the scrimmages. I'd like to see the incoming freshman class; I like the buzz they're generating."

Weber, who traveled from South Dakota for the weekend, said he took his spot in line at 10 a.m. By the time he arrived, a sizable crowd was already gathered near the entrance.

Fans stepping into line around 4 p.m. found themselves near the Burge Union, as the line stretched down Naismith Drive and around Irving Hill Road.


Kylee Manahan 4 years, 6 months ago

What's this about reserved seating for some special people? This is a free event for all of us and should not have reserved seating for anyone. I have a neighbor who had a friend (alumnus) come from Las Vegas just to see Late Night and had no chance of getting in.

Ken Schmidt 4 years, 6 months ago

There are some who have been attending Late Night for long before you were born, possibly. The glory of this event is that it is open to everyone. In many cases, those older alums are the ones, who through very generous donations (equal to or greater then $10,000) help pay for the scholarships and salaries of coaches like Self who keep our program one of the premier locations to attact great players such as Andrew Wiggins. There are not many of these tickets and they are not courtside or even in the first levels. There are some perks such as better parking for events and such, but in essence, a ticket to Late Night is the greatest of these. The spots are located in sections 15/16/17 on the second or third level. I feel it is nice to receive a small token for giving back to the University instead of buying a new car, taking a grand vacation or installing a new home theatre, every year...without regards to records, player/coach names or demanding any further special treatment. Yes, I enjoyed a reserved seat tonight, but like you, I have waited overnight in the past to get in. I have also worked very hard each year to make sure I can support our university in a way that makes us proud to call ourselves Jayhawks. On late nights when I have to make sacrifices for my family to earn an income which also helps supports this program, it is nice to know that I can make it after work with the knowledge I can watch the fruits of that sacrifice. I hope this makes sense.

elliottaw 4 years, 6 months ago

If you really want to help people give your money to a charity not spoiled athletes

Jeff Kilgore 4 years, 6 months ago

Yeah, our amateur athletes are getting filthy rich!

Ken Schmidt 4 years, 6 months ago

Elliott, thank you for your reply. Unfortunately, you might be unaware of what this family does for other charities as well; not the least of which has anything to do with money, but rather actual time and physical service.

Kylee Manahan 4 years, 6 months ago

My Dad has done both. Many of his patients were Haskell students and KU students who couldn't afford medical bills. Not a problem for Dad, he did a lot of pro bono work.

Kylee Manahan 4 years, 6 months ago

Oh boy, you are soooooo wrong. My 94 year old father who is a retired surgeon here in Lawrence had his tickets before the fieldhouse was even finished. He is a KU grad and KU Med School grad. For 50 years he has supported the athletic department most likely before YOU were born. He lost that option to his seats in 2001. The Williams family (Williams Fund) were and are friends of the family. Odd and Skip Williams started the Williams Fund. Unfortunately they died at a young age.

The person I was referring to that had come from Las Vegas is a graduate of KU and post grad. She is 67 years of age, most likely older that yourself. Late night should be first come first serve and no reserved seats no matter what.

P.S. If you were a Lawrencian you would have been lucky to have a doctor like my Dad. Oh, wait a minute, depending on how old you are you may have been one of his patients since he worked both hospitals in Lawrence.

Ken Schmidt 4 years, 6 months ago

As a Williams Fund member, you would know from your Annual Membership Guide that approximately 584 members donated $10,000 or greater last year. Those members are allowed two tickets, if they RSVP'd and were able to attend. That number would equal 1168 total free tickets at most for this program. Given that the total Field House capacity is 16,300, that leaves 15,132 unclaimed seats. I do not have the ability estimate and/or deduct saved seats such as for the band or family members. While I will not justify the treatment that past donors received when Lew implemented the current points system today, I will say it is the system the University has chosen to stand by.

The monetary sacrifices that your father made as well as any donation received, whether large or small, comes as a gift borne from hard work. As I am sure you might attest, just because a donation of $10,000 seems like a large amount, not everyone in that list of 584 can just open a checkbook and sign that payment without pause. It comes with dedication and desire to keep our program strong. It is the same passion that drives a person to give free time to help others in need--when they might be doing something more selfish.

You do not know, it is possible, as a surgeon, that your father is quite acquainted with me and my family. Likewise, you might be a familiar patient too. All the same, I find it nice that once per year, the University makes an effort to say thanks. All the same, there are 16,300 seats in Allen Fieldhouse and that will not change. The true debate is only beginning; how admission for Late Night next year is handled will be determined by the outcry we saw last night. Yes, I agree that it is unfortunate that the Las Vegas graduate did not get in, but we have all waited in those lines and know there is the possibility of the doors being locked. It is unlikely the availability of the extra assigned seats would have changed that reality this year.

Kylee Manahan 4 years, 6 months ago

That $10,000 check doesn't come close to what Dad has donated over 50 years.

Aiko 4 years, 6 months ago

Was this event originally for students only? Has it always been for anyone who wants to come?

Will Babbit 4 years, 6 months ago

It has always been for anyone, but in the original days it wasn't even half full because it was later.

Jeff Kilgore 4 years, 6 months ago

This is a great problem to have. The only problem I see is that it wasn't televised. I wondered if this wasn't going to happen.

scottt 4 years, 6 months ago

KU owes fans a public apology. The dangerous and dysfunctional admissions protocol for Late Night was an embarrassing “airball.” What had been an orderly process in years past disintegrated into a mad rush when the doors to Allen Fieldhouse opened a half-hour early. Children were knocked to the ground and elderly citizens pushed out of the way while police officers just smiled and did nothing. Absolutely nothing. Responsible adults just shook their head and comforted those who were shaken by the ordeal. People who had waited for hours near an entrance and in years past would have easily been admitted were simply shoved aside. It was a shocking, sad and disgusting scene for those of us who have been coming for years from far away and have always followed the rules. KU can do good by apologizing for what transpired and for promising safe measures in the future. Anything less only confirms what I fear is happening to a school that is quickly losing my respect.

Beth Ennis 4 years, 6 months ago

We've been in the past, and have never gotten in line early and have always gotten in. I'm not sure why this year is so different. Scottt, it sounds like a scary, scary thing. From the picture above, seeing all of those people pushing against closed doors looks disconcerting to me. I am glad we didn't go, I hate crowds like that.

Will Babbit 4 years, 6 months ago

It was pretty surreal, we were inside but there were thousands of empty seats. In just our section in the corner there was easily 200-300 empty seats within 50 feet of us. The count by the fire marshal was WAY off...

Fred Vance 4 years, 6 months ago

This final score just in.... KU basketball 100 and crowd control 0. Looks like crowd control needs a lot more practice time!!!

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