Not-so-cheap seats

New luxury section princely, pricey

Williams Fund members tour a new outdoor luxury seating section that will be installed behind the south end zone of Memorial Stadium. The 56-seat, 28-stool section will include 22 flat-screen televisions, an exclusive hospitality area with complimentary beverages and upscale buffets and luxury chair-back seating. Williams Fund members were given a sneak peak at the area Monday. Cost: ,500 for a club

Ah, the spoils of success.

On the heels of a 12-1 season highlighted by an Orange Bowl victory over Virginia Tech – and the consequent rise in excitement about the prospect of Kansas University’s 2008 football campaign – KU announced recently that it would be implementing a new outdoor luxury seating section, to be constructed behind the south end zone of Memorial Stadium.

A preview of the university’s “Touchdown Club Seating” was offered to fans Monday evening during a three-hour tour held to spark interest in the prospect of on-the-field seating, which will be available next season.

A total of 56 “club recliners” will be sold for $2,500 apiece, while 28 additional “club stools” are individually priced at $2,200. The cost includes complimentary food and drink, easy access to one of 22 flat-screen televisions and an opportunity to purchase the recliners following the completion of the season.

The seating section is similar to those featured in multiple major-league baseball stadiums, according to Kansas associate athletic director Jim Marchiony, who added he was unaware of another college football program that offered the same style of fan seating.

“In the first 15 minutes, someone bought four tickets,” said Marchiony, citing the team’s recent success as a factor in the seats’ attractiveness. “So I think this is going to be a very attractive option.”

Indeed, the response Monday was generally positive, as those in attendance cited an unrivaled proximity to the field and the comfort of watching a live game in conditions similar to watching from one’s own living room.

“It beats sitting on the bleachers,” said Tom Horner, a fan and former Jayhawks football player. “The comfort is a big thing -especially for the older folks.”

Guests also were treated to a tour of the soon-to-be-completed Anderson Family Football Complex, the most popular stop of which was the super-sized office of head coach Mark Mangino, which is only slightly smaller than the state of Wyoming and comes complete with a personal bathroom/shower facility.

“Look at that shower!” gushed a gray-haired woman, taking a moment to examine the rest room. “What a great shower!”

The backbone of the evening, however, was the novelty seating. At least 12 seats had been sold as of Monday night, Marchiony said, and the university hopes to sell the remainder of the 84 total seats before the Jayhawks’ Aug. 30 season-opener against visiting Florida International.

“I think it appeals to people who just want a different experience at a college football game,” Marchiony said. “These 56 people will experience KU football in a way that 49,950 people won’t.”

¢ Mangino returned to his former hometown of New Castle, Pa., last weekend to the kind of fanfare worthy of a national college football coach of the year.

In addition to taking part in a parade in his honor, Mangino was the featured guest at a local charity golf tournament.

“It’s always good to be home,” Mangino told the New Castle (Pa.) News. “You get a chance to hang out with people I only see maybe once a year.

“It’s been a great weekend,” he added. “I’ve been very fortunate. A lot of people in New Castle have been very kind to me. It’s more than I could ever expect.”

¢ KU recruiting coordinator Brandon Blaney and University of Miami defensive coordinator Bill Young went head-to-head in a recruiting battle over Riley Spencer, a 6-foot-6, 254-pound offensive tackle from Hesston High, according to Blaney scored the victory when Hesston chose Kansas over the Hurricanes, Kansas State and Texas Christian.

¢ Kansas Athletics, Inc.’s board of directors has until 5 p.m. Wednesday to vote on a resolution to borrow $45 million from the Kansas Development Finance Authority for a project to make renovations to Allen Fieldhouse, Wagnon Student Center and Parrott Athletics Center.

In an electronic letter, board members were informed that:

1. The prinicipal amount of bonds will not exceed $45 million and is expected to be “around $37 million.”

2. The interest rate will not exceed 6 percent and is expected to be close to 5 percent.

3. The term will not exceed 30 years, and the plan calls for a 25-year term on the bonds with “the expectation that they could be paid early as pledges are fulfilled.”

Nobody in the athletic department doubts the resolution will pass.

¢ Former Jayhawk football player and current New York Dragons DB Ronnie Amadi will be on the active roster for the wild-card round of the AFL Playoffs, when the Dragons take on the Dallas Desperados at 7:30 p.m. on June 27. With three more victories, his team can earn a trip to New Orleans to play in ArenaBowl XXII on July 27.