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Friday, April 30, 2004

KU makes ‘win-win’ swap for tickets

Fieldhouse seat changes, rec center funding offered to students

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Kansas University students and athletic department officials have brokered a three-way deal that's expected to raise the noise level next season in Allen Fieldhouse.

"This is a win-win situation for everybody," said Andy Knopp, KU student body president.

Under the plan, students will give up 1,200 seats for men's basketball games in the upper reaches of the fieldhouse -- sections 11, 12 and 13A -- behind the south goal. In return, they get 226 seats closer to the court.

Money raised by the athletic department from access to the 1,200 seats will be used to help finance a $6 million expansion at the Student Recreation Fitness Center, which opened last fall.

In recent years, 5,500 tickets have been set aside for students. But since 2002, the KU Student Senate has allowed the athletic department to sell 1,200 of the third-tier seats because not enough students wanted seats that far from the court.

Money generated by the 1,200 tickets was not shared with the students, an arrangement KU Athletic Director Lew Perkins considered unfair.

"This was a way we could give something back to the students for their support of the athletic program," said Jim Marchiony, KU associate athletic director. "At the same time, student leaders realized they could help the athletic department's efforts to raise new money."

In the past, the 1,200 tickets have been general admission. They'll be sold as season tickets next season, Marchiony said.

Whether any single-game general admission tickets will be available to the public next year, Marchiony said, is a decision that has not yet been made.

Moving 226 students, he said, "will make a nice wall of students in the end zones, which should add a little to the home-court advantage."

The athletic department's help in financing the Student Recreation Fitness Center expansion will be limited to $1 million a year, Marchiony said.

The proposed expansion will include four new basketball courts, additional racquetball courts and space for weight equipment.

"From the students' perspective, we're getting a huge benefit out of this, especially when you consider the tickets were being sold to the general public anyway," Knopp said.

Before striking the deal, Knopp said he checked with "five or six campers" who spend days and nights at the fieldhouse prior to games in an effort to get optimum seats.

"They were all for it," Knopp said.

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