Archive for Saturday, October 5, 2013

Line-cutting, mobbing has KU Athletics reviewing Late Night admittance protocol

October 5, 2013

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Kansas Athletics will be examining its admittance procedure to future Late Night in the Phog events after many fans complained about a lack of crowd control, line cutting and mobbing at the entrance of Allen Fieldhouse on Friday.

On Saturday, associate athletic director Jim Marchiony said KU Athletics will “examine all our protocols regarding Late Night and talk about what things we may need to change and how to change them.”

Considerable hype preceded this year’s Late Night event, which included the KU introduction of nation’s top basketball recruit, Andrew Wiggins. All day Friday, photos circulated on social media of long, winding lines and fans who had camped overnight to secure a decent spot in line to the free event.

But by the time doors opened at 5:30 p.m., fans began to report frequent cutting in line and a rush to the front entrance.

Once the building’s 16,300 seats were filled, doors closed and an estimated 3,000 to 5,000 fans were turned away. That thousands were unable to be admitted was not unexpected. At issue, fans said, was lack of crowd control.

Traci and Dwight Bennett traveled from Derby to meet their daughter, Amber Hess, of Lenexa, on Friday and secured a spot in line at around 11:45 a.m., Traci Bennett said.

“Absolutely no one was watching from the university for any crowd control,” Bennett said. “We didn’t see any security outside and nobody made sure people stayed in line.”

At one point, Bennett said, what appeared to be students began filing in front of her family, “sometimes 20 to 30 at a time.”

Once the doors opened for a brief period of time, Bennett described a mad dash to the fieldhouse with rows of people piling toward the front of the line and becoming “packed like sardines” once the doors were closed. Fights broke out and, at one point, members of one family threatened to harm another, Bennett said.

Marchiony said Kansas Athletics used cattle guards to control the crowd, as had been procedure in years past, but Bennett — in addition to numerous people writing on Facebook and Twitter — did not recall seeing any university officials or security outside the fieldhouse.

“It was just mad,” she said, later adding “there was absolutely no security.”

Sarah Schneider, a junior at KU from Mulvane, said crowd control was less organized this year than in previous years. Last year, tickets were passed out to those waiting in line about 30 minutes to an hour before the doors opened, she said. But this year tickets weren't handed out until just as the doors opened.

"There was just one girl handing out tickets," Schneider said. "She looked kind of afraid because so many people were running at her."

Students often use camping groups, which require only one person from a group as large as 30 to be in line. Campers from Schneider's group had been in line since 6 a.m., but when she got there at 4 p.m. she said the lines were beginning to merge together. When the doors opened she said the large crowd began rushing in all at once.

"We started running too because we didn't want to be left behind," she said. "I had to hold on to my friend's shirt or I would have been lost from the crowd I was going with."

Responding to a volley of complaints via its Twitter account Friday night, the athletics department seemed to blame the behavior of the fans.

“It’s a shame that some fans didn’t follow protocol and ruined the experience for others, again, we’ll do our best to improve,” @KUAthletics tweeted.

Marchiony said KU Athletics will examine whether offering general admission to Late Night is the appropriate way to do it going forward.

“Last night certainly served as an impetus to examine all the protocols related to Late Night, there’s no question about that,” Marchiony said. “We don’t want to change the spirit and the atmosphere of what Late Night has been, but we do have to consider fans’ behavior and safety and the general fan experience.”

Luke Ranker contributed to this story.

Reporting intern Luke Ranker contributed to this story

Comments

Steve Jacob 1 year, 10 months ago

Wonder if KU would ever considering playing it at Memorial Stadium? If they can put a court on air craft carriers, they can put one on a football field. The Field house can be the backup.

Jean Robart 1 year, 10 months ago

If they can play ice hockey at Fenway Park, they can surely figure out a way to play basketball at Memorial Stadium. That is not a bad idea!

Patricia Davis 1 year, 10 months ago

It may be the only time Memorial Stadium would be filled.

3up3down 1 year, 10 months ago

Excellent idea ! ! ! They sure don't paly any other games at Memorial Stadium.

grammaddy 1 year, 10 months ago

I'm glad it wasn't at Memorial Stadium when the storm blew through here.

jacpac57 1 year, 10 months ago

I got in line at 1:30. People continued to cut in line and the cattle guards were a joke they pushed them over and we had to walk on top of them. I was scared kids were crying. No way you could get out of it. The students were a big part of issue with shoving and cutting in line. They needed the guards up to make lines

Fred Vance 1 year, 10 months ago

We got in line around 2:15pm, and was VERY disappointed in crowd control and cutting in line by others. Between 2:30-5:00pm, the line kept getting wider instead of longer as large numbers (mostly students) started crowding in. We were about 1/3 towards the front of the line at 5:00pm. However, there was a huge rush on the front doors and over the barriers just as the doors opened. Students and adults crashed the front doors to get in. Those of us who stayed in line barely got in before the doors were closed. I hold KU responsible for a horrible experience. I have gone to many Late Night performances, but this year will be my last year if the format doesn't change. I believe they should sell assigned seats in advance. KU, get your act together. Signed, One Unhappy Jayhawk!!!

Kylee Manahan 1 year, 10 months ago

Yes, I agree. They should sell tickets for a minimal amount and give the proceeds to some charity that the school supports.

fiddleback 1 year, 10 months ago

Even if they had somehow predicted this potential, how exactly is KU supposed to police line-cutting? Sounds like both scale of interest and entitled and/or cheating behavior dwarfed previous years. An unfortunate confluence to be sure, and I imagine this will spell the end of late night as a free event. Probably for the best given the number of people turned away and the emerging mob behavior -- very fortunate nobody was hurt.

FarleyM 1 year, 10 months ago

I missed it. But, I have never ever really been into bread and circuses.

FarleyM 1 year, 10 months ago

No. I am left of the hoi polloi. I do see the importance of bread and circuses though. They are very in important.

appleaday 1 year, 10 months ago

They're lucky no one was hurt. Sounds like it could have been a disaster.

wguillies 1 year, 10 months ago

It almost was a disaster for my daughter, who nearly was crushed to death in the swarming crowd. She said it was terrifying. I'm stunned there were no apparent crowd control measures in place.

MIke Mallory 1 year, 10 months ago

At 5:30 there was a huge rush of thousands of people toward the East door and cant believe no one got hut or trampled. After getting inside, you could notice many, many seats not taken as people had spread out. I am guessing instead of 16,300, there was probably closer to 14,000 there last night as people were nearly as packed in as a normal game. KU really need to do something different next year.

jhawk1998 1 year, 10 months ago

Another reason Marchiony needs to go.

riverdrifter 1 year, 10 months ago

Ding, ding, ding! We have a winner! Agree completely. Marchiony is as vacant as a parking lot. I have no idea how he's survived at his position for so long. Who the hell does he know?

Aimee Polson 1 year, 10 months ago

Marchiony delivers the bad news, he doesn't make it happen.

cowboy 1 year, 10 months ago

I agree with KUbabyj that tickets for a nominal fee and the proceeds to charity would be the right approach. I went last year and it was a zoo , the long wait takes the enjoyment out of it. The other thing to do is have a professional broadcast that shows the event properly for the KU market and this would ease the pressure on the fieldhouse. I don't know what Metro sports coverage is but usually hear complaints about anything they broadcast as they are only on traditional cable networks. KU could be more proactive about this. They should realize how popular they really are.

blindrabbit 1 year, 10 months ago

Part of the cheapening of KU basketball program. Too much hype, too much chasing the one and done's , making the program look un-refined, spoiled fans, too much like Kentucky, Syracuse, Connecticut. Clean it up or loose you class.

patkindle 1 year, 10 months ago

this black eye will heal and be gone by basketball season and no one will care they will for get it about it until next year, and the place will be packed

Rcjh14 1 year, 10 months ago

While unfortunate that many people who had waited in line for hours did not get in, and that a handful of people ruined this by rushing the door, causing a rapid, panicked domino effect, it is rather irresponsible to place this blame solely toward students. I was one of those students mentioned in the article who joined friends who had saved spots in line right after I finished class (at an institution, I may add, to which I pay a considerable amount of money to attend and therefore did not skip class, but I digress). I can understand how this may seem unfair to many, but when you have a free, unticketed event this is bound to happen no matter what. KU athletics need to place blame where it is due, on the fact that admission to this event was organized and planned in a sloppy manner, and hopefully will be a wake up call for a better Late Night in the future.

Fred Vance 1 year, 10 months ago

Rcjh14, it was caused by more than a handful of people. I was there and saw a couple of thousand people rush the front door. The blame was not only on the students as there were also adults of all ages involved. However, the students certainly were in the high majority.

Erin England 1 year, 10 months ago

I paid thousands of dollars to KU and am still paying for it. That doesn't matter to KUAD and nor does it justify getting in line in front of everyone else. I do agree that it wasn't the students fault. There are many different fans who rushed the doors.

Rcjh14 1 year, 10 months ago

Oh, no doubt you and many others pay money to the university. I was simply stating my reasoning for attending class as many others did that day. As someone else mentioned, it's another reason that it would probably be better to hold the event over a break instead of when class is in session.

gatekeeper 1 year, 10 months ago

The timing isn't something they can just plan over a break. There are rules about when practices can begin.

Doesn't matter if you're a student or not, holding spots for others may be ok for game days when you have tickets and it's a matter of holding the spot for an actual GA seat that you have a ticket for. The fact that thousands of fans (not students) that stood in line for hours were turned away while students that showed up last minute because their buddies were holding a spot for them got in isn't fair. When you're a student, you will sometimes have to sacrifice fun things because you are at the university to get an education. I'm sure lots of alums that took the day off work (many probably had kids there too) were turned away unfairly because students thought they could just let their friends show up last minute and get in.

waitjustaminute 1 year, 10 months ago

Maybe KU officials will find a way to push LateNight into downtown Lawrence, like every other event they don't want to deal with. The University really does run the town afterall.

stevieboy 1 year, 10 months ago

Charge $ 75 a ticket and that will keep the free loaders at home.

3up3down 1 year, 10 months ago

I like the ticket idea. Especially if they only charge 10 bucks per ticket. I can then scalp it for 200. Very cool.

John Hamm 1 year, 10 months ago

And that's exactly what will happen. What a shame.

kernal 1 year, 10 months ago

But can students afford a $75 ticket? Doubtful.

I always thought this event was supposed to be primarily for the students.

Kylee Manahan 1 year, 10 months ago

I was saying a "nominal" amount for a ticket such as $1 - $5 dollars.

PhilChiles 1 year, 10 months ago

I like the idea of charging a small fee, $5-10, and you have to give your name at the time of purchase; then show ID when you show up to prevent scalping.

Kylee Manahan 1 year, 10 months ago

Are you kidding, this is for the fans and students who can't afford tickets to regular games. Those people who can afford $10,000 can go to the games. Again, there should be no reserved seating just because some one donated $10,000, not on Late Night.

friendlyjhawk 1 year, 10 months ago

Late Night is hyped up for weeks in advance to insure that Allen Fieldhouse is mobbed and the filled to the brim. The people that did not make it into the Fieldhouse don't give a damn about "crowd control." That is sour grapes on their part. What a waste of time to go worship these young men falsely. In this life Late Nite is a trivial pimple. Sounds like I don't KU BB but I do. Just easier to watch them on TV playing basketball then standing in line for hours to see them be silly.

Scott Morgan 1 year, 10 months ago

Maybe wrong, but were concessions running? If so, there was money made, and security could have been paid from this.

One of my fondest memories, but probably horror to some families was something very similar except at a much larger venue.

Actually thought this event did change the legal structure of large freebee gatherings.

Major League Baseball as all pro sports showed just how much the popularity had grown at the 1978 All Star Game San Diego. There was never much going on the day before the real game, so admission as always was free. Maybe a couple of thousand diehard fans would show up most thought.

Nobody planned for 40 K++ Was traveling through with some college buddies and thought perfect! News of a free look at the All Star practice spread like wildfire. Hey, it's San Diego, hit the park early and get some Sun. BYOB too.

Nothing like the MLB All Star game now. Just great players hitting and fielding. Pete Rose was hilarious.

If memory serves the beer and dogs were fairly cheap too. No tickets so if you were healthy and young, you could stand by the batting cages, which I did. It was great, until it was over.

The traffic jam just out of the park was incredible, nobody paid attention to the regular routes. They ran out of everything, and not enough concession stands open in the first place.

Do not remember any fights, but tempers were short and watched some cars being damaged. Different time back then, cooler heads. Took hours and hours to clear things up, including the regular rush hour traffic.

grammaddy 1 year, 10 months ago

I wonder how many of those who rushed the doors brought food items to donate? Charging a minmal fee would be better. They could only sell as many tickets as the fieldhouse will hold and then donate the money to the food banks. Win-win.

Joe Hyde 1 year, 10 months ago

A better way to deal with line-cutters isn't cattle guards, but cattle prods.

Richard Heckler 1 year, 10 months ago

The few times I've attended never did I wait in line. Nor the was there such rowdiness detected.

Money is no object for KU Sports Inc. This money can afford to pay whatever to support advance ticket sales and rowdy control.

If there were no KU students there would be no Jayhawk basketball. I say students, KU staff and their families should have absolute priority no questions asked. This will likely NOT fill the field house. Issue tickets in advance at no charge with proof of student enrollment or staff ID.

For fans who do not have students enrolled sell tickets in advance for 5.00 each as a tool for crowd control. This is a special fun event for basketball season. Beyond students and staff zero priority is the rule even for the Williams Fund crowd... they receive plenty of preferential treatment all season long.

Donate all proceeds to a scholarship fund that serve students in need of financial assistance.

Have fun next year and long into the future.

Erin England 1 year, 10 months ago

I was a student once and I agree that the students play a large part in KU Basketball success, but they also have very easy and cheaper access to KU games. There are many in the community that show up to Late Night because it is their only opportunity to see the action in person, even if it is only a scrimmage and a few silly skits. Thus, I don't think first priority should be given to students. They already have first priority and a bigger advantage. There is also enough preferential treatment for certain individuals already. This is a free event and KUAD should work on making it as equal for everyone as they can.

don1157 1 year, 10 months ago

My son and I have gone to Late Night for years, a tradition. We cannot donate $10,000 and do not own a corporation to get free tickets to regular games, and can not pay the ridiculous prices on the “secondary” or scalping markets, so this is often the only time we get to see them play. If they start charging for tickets, it would eliminate our tradition. Besides unscrupulous people would find a way to scalp those tickets. A couple of factors were at play Friday. School was in session, other times it was during fall break and this year the hype was over the top. Maybe stopping the practice of holding spaces in line and saving seats would help the problem. Requiring food donation should be in place. So the people who really want to see the event will be there under the same conditions. Friday was bad; we thought small kids would be hurt. We were lucky this year, but if things do not change, it may be our last.

Bob Forer 1 year, 10 months ago

What an absurd, ridiculous and contemptible response by KU Athletics, blaming the siutation on the crowd itself. Had people been injured or killed (and such occurrences are not without precedence), and lawsuits filed, I am sure the jury would place the blame with KU Athletics, and award some princely sums. How can you not expect problems with a large crowd at a free and very popular event, especially on a Friday with a lot of young people, and more than a few intoxicated students in the crowds?

Sounds that there was absolutely no official presence there to control the crowd. Absolutely shameful.

I hope KU learns a very inexpensive lesson and modifies their approach to this event in coming years. There easily could have been some real tragedies this year, and instead of blaming the potential victims, they need to take heed, learn a lesson or two, and rethink their position.

blindrabbit 1 year, 10 months ago

phoggydrive: No clue you say, attended 100's of Allen Fieldhouse and Hoch Auditorium games. KU has bought into the hype that has become college BB. Next thing you know, KU will employ one of those jackass announcers that sound like MCing a low class cattle auction

patkindle 1 year, 10 months ago

sounds like your typical Lawrence crowd, entitled and self serving

Kylee Manahan 1 year, 10 months ago

I take exception to that and I wasn't even there.

Jstanobservation 1 year, 10 months ago

Hard to believe all these mild-mannered liberals here in Lawrence would cause such a problem.Got to find some way to blame it on the Reps or the Tea potties cause good libs don't act like this,right?

PhilChiles 1 year, 10 months ago

Question: is this guy a troll, a goober, or both?

FarleyM 1 year, 10 months ago

I can't believe it either Jstanobservation.

repaste 1 year, 10 months ago

The students have a High percentage of over privileged, conservative Johnson County kids. Lawrence is liberal, students are not all liberal.

bossdawg 1 year, 10 months ago

For the past couple years Late Nite has taken place over fall break. IMO, the benefit of that weekend is that most of the students are gone and it allows alumni and the Lawrence community have a great family experience at the PHOG.

Robert Rauktis 1 year, 10 months ago

In 1979, The Who & Cincinnati brought an end to non-assigned, non-reserved seating, especially with the young crowd. These people at KU.Athletics absolutely lucked out that there were no, even vague incidents or scrapes.

ESPN, as the media outlets now do, get free milage pumping (pimping?) these events. Shameless...and the next time VERY costly. They'll be mortgaging good ole AFH...wait...they don't own it.

gert891 1 year, 10 months ago

why not give tickets away earlier in the week, at Dillons or Hyvee, make that the only places you can get the tickets. then only people with tickets can get in at the event....This may eliminate the door rush.

Jim Williamson 1 year, 10 months ago

"I was one of those students mentioned in the article who joined friends who had saved spots in line..."

And this, my friends, is the problem. Two freshmen saving seats for 8th floor McCollum.

gatekeeper 1 year, 10 months ago

They should do the tickets like a lottery. You want to go, sign up online on the athletics website. More people sign up than can be admitted, then they randomly draw for tickets. A certain percentage should go towards the students and the rest to alumni and fans (like regular games). All proceeds should benefit a local charity. Students enter on the side like during normal games and everyone else at front entrance. Anyone caught scalping tickets should have them taken away and escorted from university property. Anyone causing problems should be escorted away.

lilbit0434 1 year, 10 months ago

I agree that there needs to be more crowd control. They can't just have people standing INSIDE the doors & expect them to somehow be able to control the crowd on the OUTSIDE. They need to post the rules & parking info. WEEKS in advance b/c some people still think they can get away w/taking in their backpacks, chairs, blankets etc. This is a BIG hold up & would be eliminated if the rules were available to everyone via the internet/newspaper.

Selling tickets would be a good idea at a first come, first serve basis. I think they should only be $5-10 at most & should be donated to a charity. The tickets should be available either online or at HyVee & should be sold in order like any concert, "best available seat." That way there is no need for people to camp out & be there hrs. in advance & rush the door. At least if there was a crowd waiting to enter, it'd be minimal.

I don't see the need for the band, considering they only play the Star Spangled Banner which can be played overhead, plus, they had a DJ this year & a lot of the music comes from the videos they show. Not to mention, all the athletes they save seats for in the student section. That's a lot of seats. I feel like they should have seats on the side of the court for them or something, even though I do agree that the students play a big part in our b-ball tradition, as I was once a student, but they have access to many games/events for cheap & I don't think they deserve priority for Late Night. As for the rich folks donating a pretty penny for some reserved seats, that's just a bunch of BS! It's definitely not fair that they get reserved seats & some extras so they can show up right on time and some, late, while others have to take off work or rush to get there in time. A good amount of the fans cannot afford to pay $10,000+, let alone $75 or more for a single game ticket, so clearly these people are getting priority. It just isn't fair. Friends & family of the players also get seats, but they get these to every home game as well, no need for them to be included in Late Night. Same goes for previous players/alumni. I saw one ex-basketball player & his fiance show up around 8p.m. I just think that's unacceptable since so many other people had been waiting since 10a.m. & didn't even get in.

lilbit0434 1 year, 10 months ago

I've gone to Late Night every year since I was in elementary school. I remember the pushing/shoving & big crowds, but never this bad. It was ridiculous. I was at the front of the line on the East side and I got in & got a great seat, but I was so anxious & hot once I got in there that I couldn't even enjoy myself. (Not to mention, my husband was stuck outside & got there right at 5:30p.m. when the doors were suppose to open & they already said they weren't letting anyone else in). At that point, they only let people in w/a reserved ticket even though the event had started at 6:30p.m., several people were still outside hoping to get in, but reserved ticket holders were still showing up late & got in. Completely unacceptable. Show up on time or forfeit your seat to a DIEHARD fan that deserves to be there. (Luckily my husband ended up getting in).

Speaking of hot, w/all the money donated to KU for those reserved seats, can't they afford to get some AC? Seriously! That was insane! If people didn't get hurt when the doors got rushed, I can't believe they didn't pass out from the heat! Maybe it's time we upgrade? More seating? Bigger seats since no one is really only 12 inches wide? AC? With all the money the school has, I'm pretty sure they can afford some more upgrades & I think it's time. Either way, I love this event & I will continue to go.

As for people cutting the line, it's going to happen w/o any crowd control. A guy camped out the night before by himself, but let 12-14 people cut the FRONT of the line in front of me. That's unacceptable. I don't care if he attempts to save them a seat, but don't let your entire family cut in front of others who actually have waited all morning/afternoon.

I agree that they need to do something or else this event isn't going to be enjoyable for all those who love KU b-ball & love a chance at seeing the players before the season starts. It would be very disappointing to end Late Night as it's a HUGE tradition to most KU fans, but it would be equally disappointing to have it continue to be a disaster like it was this year. Maybe it will take someone getting hurt & them getting sued before they do something about it?

I don't know but they have less than a year to figure it out so hopefully they will take everyone's comments & make some changes. Just another thought, what if they held it 2 nights, Friday & Saturday? Maybe let the family, friends, athletes, rich folks go one night & then the general public & students the next night or something like that? Makes sense to have it 2 nights so it isn't as packed or hot & everyone gets a chance at going. They'd probably even make more money w/concessions & clothing sales, etc. I think that would eliminate a lot of the mess. Just saying. :-)

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