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Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Woodling

KU fans abuzz over seats

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Lately I’ve been running into people who ask good-naturedly if I’m going to cough up $15,000 for a press-row seat in Allen Fieldhouse. Yuk, yuk.

Word last week that Kansas Athletics Inc. will charge 15 grand apiece for 40 seats once occupied by the media in Allen Fieldhouse has created more of a buzz than usual when it comes to KU men’s basketball.

Curious about some of the reaction, I went to KUSports.com to gauge how the populace feels about the decision to add $600,000 to the KAI coffers by displacing the media.

Here are some of the comments to the story:

“… $600K to replace 40 media hacks with Jayhawk boosters. Looks like win-win to me.”

This one was predictable. Surprisingly, though, it was the only anonymous pot shot I saw directed at the media. Truth is, writers and broadcasters don’t care where they sit just as long as they don’t have to invoke open-meeting laws to secure access to the arena.

“Like the move but would love to see students along a sideline. Imagine the deafening roar on top of what is already the best experience in college basketball.”

Perhaps it would be best not to ask for too much. Just think how much more revenue KAI could generate if the nearly 7,000 students were moved into the upper rows and their current seats tossed into the priority-points mix.

“(James) Naismith and (Phog) Allen are probably rolling over in their graves, because Lew's school of big business is now ruining the ‘collegiate’ experience.”

Naismith might be twisting, but not Allen. The Phogger was famous for his coaching, but his knowledge of X’s and O’s was matched by a P.T. Barnum-esque appreciation of dollars and cents.

“I worry that priorities have become twisted under the Reign of Lew, and Allen Fieldhouse is losing that special feel.”

Unlikely. Not only will the venerable barn — it really hasn’t been a fieldhouse since they covered the dirt floor in the early 1970s — retain its unique charm, it will be more fan-friendly when the current renovation is complete.

“The market value of those courtside seats is a lot more than $15,000. I have no doubt they could sell all of them for $30k each, if not more.”

You’re probably right. This year was essentially a trial balloon.

“Just wait until a diving player or even just a ball comes crashing over that table and injures a wealthy fan. Most of the media is used to that kind of action and knows how to dodge.”

I’ve covered basketball games in Allen Fieldhouse for more than four decades, and I can’t recall any incidents in which either a fan or a media member was injured by a diving player or stray basketball.

“I can already picture the old, rich geezers who will be sitting there. Too bad.”

Perhaps not so bad after all. At least many of those old, rich geezers will be better dressed than most of the old, poor sports writers who once sat there.

“Lew Perkins is a genius.”

Not exactly. It didn’t take a genius to transform Allen Fieldhouse from a gold mine to a platinum mine. All it took was the guts to challenge the status quo.

Comments

kingpin 10 years, 5 months ago

I appreciate the candid comments Chuck and agree with what you said. Only thing surprising here is this wasn't done sooner.

Carter Patterson 10 years, 5 months ago

I remember a few years back the LJW was Lew-bashing right and left over his revenue generating programs. There can be no doubt that Lew is one of the very best in the business. Mucho thanks to Drew Jennings and the search committee for their efforts in bringing Mr. Perkins to Lawrence.

Kent Wells 10 years, 5 months ago

I like pie.

I just said that hoping I'd be quoted in the next article.

KANSTUCKY 10 years, 5 months ago

"I like pie."

Hopefully, there isn't another article about the responses to the previous article but, you never know....

Rick Arnoldy 10 years, 5 months ago

I like pie, too. And I liked the article.

There were dirt floors in there in the '70s? Really?

Jonathan Allison 10 years, 5 months ago

Good to know that our sportswriters aren't too miffed by this move. I guess those of them who are actually KU fans may recognize this as a good move to increase revenue and fund renovations that will hopefully attract more talent, and those who are not KU fans just don't want people to think that they actually enjoy sitting front row midcourt for every KU home game.

Joel Hood 10 years, 5 months ago

The atmosphere at AFH has little to do with the renovations, amenities for wealthy donors, or $15k seats. It comes from the energy brought to each game by the students who camp for the best seats available to them. If you never camped at AFH, then the mystique of the place is still probably a mystery to you.

In 1986, the permanent bleachers were brought in to the lower levels at AFH. Students stood the whole game and alumns complained. In 1987, the student section was reconfigured so that students could stand and non-students could sit. Over the next 20 years, the quality of the student seats has slowly gotten worse. Recently, the KU student senate gave up some of the better student seats for a donation from the KUAC to the new student rec center. Although the total number of student seats remained the same. The students will never get those better seats back.

My point – if you want AFH to remain a magical place, the students cannot be relegated to the upper levels. I am not a Lew basher, but I hope he truly understands how important the students are to the atmosphere at AFH. Keeping AFH as the best venue for college basketball requires both rabid student fans and big money donors. I sure hope Lew doesn’t sellout the students. And I wish to God that someone at the LJW would champion the students and recognize this.

Jacobpaul81 10 years, 5 months ago

I think from a dollar and cents outlook, this is probably a good idea. Gotta make money. Considering the salaries of everyone involved with KU sports these days, gotta make money some how to pay for it. Add to it building renovations and everything, it's a costly venture.

And I agree with Gary, apart from the live broadcasters, sports reporters don't need to sit on the floor. It's always been a bit of a detraction to have all those sports writers sitting there.

Here's the problem. Every Kansas fan has watched as corporations bought up those lower seats in Allen. We've seen crooks like Wettig and Kivisto plastered all over our tv sets cause they could afford good seats or because they were donating big money. Because of this, we don't have a great deal of confidence in the universities judgement as far as who should be sitting court side at Allen. We watch game after game at chunks of empty corporate seats in the lower rows or as people leave with 5 minutes left in the game. It's glaring to us that Allen is losing its charm, and we all know it's your job

Dollars and Cents don't always equal good ideas.

Jacobpaul81 10 years, 5 months ago

Edit: we all know it's your job to paint Kansas and the rich history in a good light, but it's obvious this is a decision that Kansas fans are going to be very critical of.

jhawkroger 10 years, 5 months ago

I like pie too. Not real crazy about rhubarb though. And this was an excellent article

For all the nay sayers about Lovable Lew, he is a money making machine and I for one am very glad he has brought his circus wagon to Lawrence. KU facilities rank up there with the best of them now. Fortunately or unfortunately college athletics has become all about the money and Lew has shown us the money.

John Mueller 10 years, 5 months ago

I like Chuck Woodling. I will always remember the "Notes and Quotes" while wondering about something. It was good print and it came in an afternoon paper folded up on the front porch of my fraternity. I think I was the only one out of 110 to ever read that thing, but those Wed and Thurs evening papers were full of the fomer and "Know the Foe" for that weeks upcoming gridiron debacle.

Good stuff and better memories. Too bad Bob Valenscente (sp?) didn't fair to well on Saturday afternoons.

John Boyle 10 years, 5 months ago

It seems to me a lot of the complaints have to do with the fact that money is going to be raised. Why is that such a bad thing in this day and age? The students aren't losing anything here. The media guys are the ones losing out and they aren't complaining. It's a good idea and it doesn't distract from the havoc we students can create from our seats. Go Hawks!

Tony Bandle 10 years, 5 months ago

ohioburg

YEP...the floor at Allen was dirt when I was there in the late sixties. Of course it was covered up with flooring and tarps and the the bball court, but I remember watching some type of indoor track meet and thinking this was the weirdest thing I've ever seen!!!

I remember getting to the Fieldhouse at 5:30 and watching the freshman teams play before the varsities. You couldn't beat a doubleheader in Allen...truly Basketball Heaven!!!

Rick Arnoldy 10 years, 5 months ago

Warm rhubarb pie with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. One of my favorites.

Just how big were the teams back then if they had enough players to field freshman teams? Were there a bunch of walk-ons?

Dirk Medema 10 years, 5 months ago

Maybe they should establish a system for losing points if a seat (on the lower level/TV-able area) is empty for a game.

In order to not penalize the responsible person that just has another committment, also create a hotline where they could call in their absence. Then Lew could make like the beer commercial (Heineken?) where the usher takes the 2 guys to their seats in the nose bleed section, just before beer gets spilled all over the seats. The guys are cool about it, but the usher says, "Follow me" and takes them courtside to the seat where the Heineken is delivered - next to the hot chick.

Alright, so even Lew couldn't guarentee who you would sit next to, but wouldn't it be cool to reward some faithful (less affluent) fan/(child?) with prime seats. Good PR.

Dirk Medema 10 years, 5 months ago

Ohioburg - The floor was covered by the early 70's.

There was a 220 yd track - 8 laps to the mile (6 or 7 in the outer lanes), or half the size of an outdoor track. It was really sweet for the day - compared to 160 or 176 yd, 11 or 10 laps to the mile tracks with really tight corners.

The upper level seating cantilevered out over the outer half of the straights, and the entire curves were under the seating. You had to be careful not to lean in too much when sprinting around the curves, or you could run into a metal support column.

The surface was known as Tartan - essentially a sea of rubber. In some ways, it was similar to current tracks - about the same way that astro-turf is = to field-turf, or whatever they call the new field surface. The track had a lot of texture to it, but court area had a smoother surface. Unfortunately for the BB players, they also eventually found out that the surface was leading to knee injuries, so it was covered with the slightly raised wooden floor in the 80's.

KUbsee69 10 years, 5 months ago

ohioburg ... back "then" freshman could not play varsity basketball. NCAA division one freshmen could play varsity sports until 1954. Between '54 and '73, players were only eligible for three varsity seasons. So, there was a freshman (JV) team that played the other school's freshman team before every varsity game. Yes, even players like Wilt had to do a year on the freshman team ('55-'56) before joining the varsity the next year. That's why it's hard to compare player stats today with someone of that era.

Also, back "then" AFH was rarely sold out. Students did not have to wait (or camp) in line to get good seats. Most of West side of the court was student seating, except for the chair-back seats. You could get floor level seats readily if you showed up before or early in the Freshman (JV) game. There used to be fold-back bleachers for the first 10-15 rows. As a student, I sat right behind the KU bench, with the same group of friends, on the top row of the bleachers for virtually every game from '67 - '69.

Rick Arnoldy 10 years, 5 months ago

I figured it was the era when freshmen weren't eligible. My real question was how did they come up with FIVE freshman to play. I would think that recruiting classes just weren't that big that often.

Rick Arnoldy 10 years, 5 months ago

I have vague recollections of the red textured track. Mostly we ran to get to our seats as soon as the doors opened and it was a sea of people leaving after the game so I never paid much attention to it.

Kent Wells 10 years, 5 months ago

Fench silk for me.

So, I was at KU between 1982 and 1986 AND I remember the red track...

Eurekahwk 10 years, 5 months ago

Here's an idea for the money system. Anyone who knowingly gives their football tickets to fans of the opposing schools loses a ton of priority points. Anyone who would do such a thing is NOT a true KU fan, and probably doesn't contribute much to the decibel level of the Phog.

Scott Smetana 10 years, 5 months ago

JhawkJoel - my point exactly. Let the current students have the time (and seats) of their lives. I see the Duke and UNC students with MUCH better seats. The students bring the real atmosphere to Allen.

Pinkels_Visor 10 years, 5 months ago

Without the students the wouldn't BE an atmosphere. Otherwise, it's a bunch of BMW drivin' JoCo Alums who wear loafers with no socks and close the deal by bringing their clients to a game. SCHOOL is about STUDENTS. Let 'em have some good seats.

Satchmo_KU 10 years, 5 months ago

As a current student, I don't have any real beef with our current seats. In fact, my only complaint is when they oversell the general admission tickets to games that will obviously have good student attendance as well.

kmatlage 10 years, 5 months ago

Satchmo: Yeah, like the A&M gameday game a few years back. They flat-out denied over-selling seats even though there were a ton of students held outside and not allowed in. They finally got most of the ones that stuck around till halftime inside, but a lot had already taken their $10 bs refund and left. Then a few months later they were quoted in an article as saying they do sell more GA tickets to games depending on how many students they think will show up, but have still always blamed the camping groups for the problems that game...

It was really stupid actually. They said they couldn't let more people in because there were too many inside that were saving seats, but they weren't actually allowing us to save seats (even though that's how the camping system works...) and any seats we did manage to save were FOR those people they were keeping outside... That said, you could tell that there were still way too many people there, not to mention all the people with tickets that had just taken their $10 refund and left. Anyway, even though they never stepped up and took the blame for it, they have been smarter about it since then.

"Just think how much more revenue KAI could generate if the nearly 7,000 students were moved into the upper rows and their current seats tossed into the priority-points mix."

I'm sorry to nitpick, but there aren't nearly 7k students. The student section is between 3k and 4k these days. The rest of those seats are GA.

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