KU basketball ‘mini plans’ include tickets for big games

Kansas University no longer scores enough points-holding, ticket-buying fans to fill Allen Fieldhouse — a loss of demand that is leaving seats for the season’s most intense rivalries available to the general public.

Officials at Kansas Athletics Inc. aren’t at all worried about the Jayhawks losing their streak of 164 consecutive home sellouts. Instead, they consider the availability of tickets for the 2011-12 season as a prime opportunity for folks outside the Williams Fund to buy in.

“We had the same thing last year, and they were gone well before the first game,” said Jim Marchiony, an associate athletic director. “We anticipate the same thing happening this year.”

To help draw more fans, the department, for the first time, is selling tickets in seven-game “mini plans” without requiring membership in the Williams Fund, the donor organization that finances athletic scholarships and provides “priority points” for seating for men’s basketball games. The department did the same thing last year, but with half-season plans.

Previously, fund membership had been mandatory for everyone outside students, faculty and staff buying season tickets for men’s basketball. The requirement formed the cornerstone of a points system implemented by then-Athletic Director Lew Perkins to drive up donations, using his department’s most sought-after asset.

While fund membership remains a requirement to secure season tickets this year — yes, some 19-game sets remain available, accessible with a $100 donation — the mini plans represent a new approach.

Each of three seven-game plans costs either $300 or $400, depending on seat location, and includes tickets for three Big 12 Conference games:

• Iowa State, Baylor and Texas Tech.

• Kansas State, Texas A&M and Oklahoma State.

• Oklahoma, Missouri and Texas.

That’s right: Without paying a premium, buyers can see the seven-time defending conference champion Jayhawks take on their most heated rivals.

Whether it’s Baylor (picked by many to win the league), K-State (Sunflower Showdown) or both Texas and Missouri (one a big-time program, the other a big-time rival), seats to such games remain available for purchase directly from the department.

And who knows? The Missouri game Feb. 25 just may be the last one the Tigers — mulling whether to leave the conference — ever play in Lawrence, after 121 previous Border War battles.

(KU is 44-14 all time against the Tigers at the fieldhouse, by the way, and 88-33 in Lawrence.)

“It’s a much more affordable sum of money to still get to experience the best home court — the best home court experience — in college basketball,” Marchiony said.

About 300 to 400 seats remains available, as a mixture of either season tickets or through mini plans.

To help market the seats to potential buyers, the department has sent materials to degree-holding KU alumni in Douglas and Johnson counties. Each mailing includes a photo of a basketball locker — one containing a jersey adorned with the last name of a particular degree holder — along with a personalized Web address for degree holders to access information online.

By Mark Fagan

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