City’s costs related to KU’s Final Four game still unknown

photo by: Ashley Hocking

Kansas basketball fans walk on Massachusetts St. after the Jayhawks played in the Final Four on Saturday, March 31, 2018. The city closed the street to traffic and parking temporarily. KU lost to Villanova, 95-79.

The cheers of University of Kansas men’s basketball fans have long since faded, but the book is not closed on one aspect of the team’s recent NCAA Final Four run.

The City of Lawrence is still working on tabulating the city’s costs related to the team’s Final Four appearance. City spokesman Porter Arneill told the Journal-World in an email this week, approximately three months after the Jayhawks’ last game, that a total isn’t known at this time. He didn’t say what more is needed to determine total costs.

The Journal-World typically reports on both the city’s extra sales tax revenues and extra costs when KU makes it to the Final Four. Those costs typically include personnel, preparation and cleanup costs, mostly associated with large crowds downtown.

In 2012, for example, the Journal-World reported that KU’s 14th appearance in the men’s Final Four cost the city nearly $180,000 in expenses to oversee the downtown parties that ensued. About $150,000 of that amount was personnel costs, with a large part of that amount being paid to police officers who worked additional shifts. Other costs included rentals of portable toilets for downtown, loss of downtown flowers and shrubbery, and various equipment and supplies.

The city has typically required the help of other law enforcement agencies because of the large crowds — in 2008, when KU won the National Championship, it was estimated that 40,000 fans crowded into downtown — and 2018 wasn’t much different in terms of the need for extra help. The Journal-World reported that the police department had recruited multiple outside law enforcement agencies to send reinforcements to Lawrence for the team’s Final Four appearance.

One difference this year was that the city decided to close Massachusetts Street to traffic for safety reasons in advance of KU’s Final Four game against Villanova. Parking and traffic were prohibited beginning at 5 a.m. Saturday, March 31, along Massachusetts Street from Sixth to 11th streets, and cars left in that area were towed. The city also put up large plastic, water-filled barriers to block off the roadway from traffic.

Whatever the costs, they will be balanced in part by increases in revenue. This year, the Journal-World reported that the sales tax report that corresponds to March sales showed that collections in Lawrence increased by 7.4 percent compared with the same month in 2017. That equates to about an extra $10 million in sales and about $150,000 in extra taxes that happened in the Lawrence economy during the one-month period.

The Journal-World has been regularly requesting the Final Four cost total since April. In May, Marketing Specialist Natalie Ward said in an email that the police department was still waiting to hear back from a couple of people to finalize the numbers and that she did not have a time frame of when the total would be available.


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