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Thursday, August 30, 2007

Local businesses prepare for ‘million-dollar weekend’

KU officials hope for strong attendance at season opener

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Lanny Riedel is looking forward to Saturday's kickoff of the Kansas University football season.

And not just to see Lawrence's own Brandon McAnderson burst through holes, Aqib Talib pick off a pass or two and Todd Reesing drive the Jayhawks to victory against the Chippewas of Central Michigan.

"More work is something to be excited about," said Riedel, president and owner of MGI Inc. in Lawrence, which operates as Midwest Graphics. "It's a good deal for us."

Riedel's business - designer and printer of 25,000 game-day T-shirts to be handed out at Memorial Stadium - is among dozens of area enterprises poised to score plenty of commerce as the Jayhawks prepare to open the 2007 season.

Football game days long have been regarded as "million-dollar weekends" by Lawrence tourism officials, who smile as more than 1,000 hotel rooms are occupied, even more restaurant seats and bar stools fill up, and grocery stores and gasoline stations sell enough tailgating supplies to feed a small army.

Reader poll

Will you attend KU's first football game of the year?

  • Let the tailgating begin! 66% 534 votes
  • I'm waiting for basketball. 14% 119 votes
  • Other. 18% 147 votes

800 total votes.

With KU officials expecting a legion of crimson-and blue fans - at least 44,000 strong, equaling last season's opening attendance - businesses are lining up to start cashing in the sales that come each fall.

The gridiron battles start at 6 p.m. Saturday and continue in Lawrence for the next three weekends, an important stretch for players, fans and merchants alike before the Jayhawks hit the road in Big 12 play.

"The whole city comes alive in a special way," said Jim Marchiony, an associate athletic director at KU and a board member for the Lawrence Chamber of Commerce. "September is an important month for businesses here. We're certainly looking for sunny, comfortable Saturdays for the next month."

photo

Harold Fatzer, a shirt catcher at Midwest Graphics, 4811 Quail Crest Place, organizes freshly inked and dried Kansas University football T-shirts. The company is in the process of printing 25,000 T-shirts for Saturday's home opener for the Jayhawk football team. KU officials expect at least 44,000 fans at the game against Central Michigan.

Remember to recycle

Kansas University football games will kick off Saturday, and Cans for the Community will be helping tailgaters recycle.

The local nonprofit will be handing out recycling bags to tailgaters at Memorial Stadium two hours before kickoff.

KU's first game against Central Michigan starts at 6 p.m.

The group, which will pick the bags up once the game begins, also encourages fans to use recycling bins around the stadium that are provided by KU Recycling.

This is the third season Cans for the Community has recycled cans from Jayhawk football games. All proceeds are donated to local charities.

Since August 2005, it has donated a total of $16,500. When the group raises $500, it's given to a charity. Jubilee Cafe has been selected to receive the next donation, on Wednesday.

For more information, contact Linda Klinker at 331-6599.

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