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Sunday, August 29, 2004

Basketball broadcast boosting ticket sales

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Kansas University officials are expecting a good turnout for Saturday night's football game against Tulsa at Memorial Stadium, and not just because it's the Jayhawks' season opener.

KU will present a rare doubleheader beginning at 2 p.m. with an exclusive broadcast of the men's basketball exhibition against the University of British Columbia on the stadium's video board and on monitors in the press-box suites.

"It's going to be good because it's going to be good for the football team," sophomore basketball player J.R. Giddens said. "I'm not saying they don't have fans in the stands, but maybe it will bring some more people to the game and some people will find that they have an interest in football, too."

As of Wednesday, Kansas had sold 24,900 season football tickets. KU sold 22,550 a year ago when the Jayhawks averaged 38,750 fans for seven home dates.

Associate athletic director Jim Marchiony said Saturday that "a little more than 30,000" tickets had been sold for the season opener as of Thursday. Those numbers continued to grow during the weekend.

"People have been on the phone constantly, and we're expecting a very big walk-up crowd," Marchiony said.

KU's football team is coming off its first bowl season since 1995, but athletic department officials thought adding the basketball broadcast would give fans an added incentive to come to the stadium during Labor Day weekend.

"I don't know of any place that's shown a basketball game in a football stadium," said Marchiony, who worked 17 years in the NCAA office. "It will make the whole day a celebration. Based on the phone calls we've received, I think our fans agree."

Some fans had hoped KU's four-game swing through Canada would be broadcast on regular TV, but Marchiony said that wasn't practical.

"The games were scheduled fairly late," he said. "Besides the fact that it was Labor Day weekend, stations already had scheduling commitments. It was a little late to try to do that."

Fans will have plenty of time for tailgating Saturday. Parking lots should be open by 9 a.m., and the box office will open at 1 p.m. Fans must have a football ticket to watch the basketball game.

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