Friday, February 27, 2009

KU mulls Gridiron Club


With interest in its football program at an all-time high —or very close to it — Kansas University’s athletic department is apparently angling to capitalize.

In a March 7 meeting for Williams Fund members at KU’s Wagnon Student Athlete Center, the university plans to address the possibility of forming a Gridiron Club, which would include a new premium seating section within the confines of Memorial Stadium.

“We are in the very preliminary stages of talking about it,” KU associate athletic director Jim Marchiony said. “... (The meeting) will be literally the first time it’s even being discussed. So yes, it’s happening, but it hasn’t even approached the feasibility stage.”

The proposal, according to a letter sent out recently to Williams Fund members, “would involve the construction of a club level complete with suite amenities and preferred seating,” although details of what that might entail — and where it would be located — were limited.

Other benefits for club members would include fixed ticket pricing with financing options and tax benefits, long-term contractual rights to a designated seat for all home games and automatically renewed game tickets annually.

Funds raised by the Gridiron Club, the letter noted, would go to the school’s athletic department and be used to support the future needs of all of the university’s athletic programs.

If plans for the new club-level section eventually came to fruition, it would mark KU’s second significant recent seating addition. On the heels of the Jayhawks’ 12-1, Orange Bowl-championship 2007 season, the university introduced “Touchdown Club Seating” prior to the ’08 season — a luxury seating section in the south end zone of Memorial Stadium where fans were able to watch Kansas home games from the comfort of a recliner or bar stool.

While Marchiony was quick to point out that talks about implementing the Gridiron Club are in their earliest stages, he said the university will use next month’s meeting to gauge the interest of prospective members.

“We talk all the time,” he said. “And this is a topic that we thought we ought to talk to our donors about.”


jayhawkinATL 12 years, 7 months ago

I agree, njjayhawk...those end zone seats are an embarrassment!!! So gimmicky!!!

zissou 12 years, 7 months ago

"...a luxury seating section in the south end zone of Memorial Stadium where fans were able to watch Kansas home games from the comfort of a recliner or bar stool."

From the comfort of a bar stool? Give me a break. First of all, there's nothing comfortable about a bar stool (believe me, I should know). Secondly, the above posts are correct in proclaiming those seats as a joke and an embarrassment to the program.

If KU is truly interested in turning the corner and becoming a real football program, they'll avoid these gimmicks and focus on real changes that programs like Penn State, Florida and hell, even Nebraska, would consider.

patton6 12 years, 7 months ago

I sat in them for the second half of the Sam Houston St. game and I didn't have any issues with them. I wouldn't want to sit there again, because of how limited your view is whenever the action isn't within that 30 yard line and the overall lack of any energy from that area. But if donors want to pay that kind of money so they can drink, eat, be comfortable, etc... I'm in no position to tell them they can't.

McGuzzo23 12 years, 7 months ago

Think big idea and long term. Build more suites on the east side and make it an actual suite instead of trying to do little gimicky things like the south endzone. Also any word on when the track is going to be coming out. I think that is the first issue they need to look at so the fans can get closer to the field.

KU1979 12 years, 7 months ago

Good job McGuzzo -- brilliant, as usual. There was talk that the track was coming out after this year's Relay's, but nothing has been said for months. It needs to happen, though. The football train is getting up to speed and we need to keep the momentum going!

Peetro1981 12 years, 7 months ago

As a Jayhawk, it always amazes me how many whiners and complainers we have in the KU family. Last time I checked, none of you turds get paid to make the decisions that have launched KU Athletics into a first class program - it was run like a D-II program before.

It would be nice to be able to comment on the job each of you are doing at work....I'm guessing the results wouldn't be as impressive as what we've seen from KUAC and their progress over the last few years.

Rather than coffee this A.M., each of you that think you can do a better job at running athletics should enjoy a warm glass of shut up!

railer1122 12 years, 7 months ago

Yeah they should add some suites to the East side... I like that idea... Just add one level of suites over there and the stadium will keep looking better and better

FlaHawk 12 years, 7 months ago

I don't think that the Track can come out until KU builds a Track Stadium. Where would you hold the KU Relays (Haskell)?

I agree this should be the first step in modernization, but suspect it is 2-3 years down the road.

Kenneth Hillman 12 years, 7 months ago

Please get rid of the track and take the current south end zone seats with it. We could lower the field enough to potentially get a full bowl in seating rather than just the horseshoe (picture rows of seating up to the scoreboard on the south adjoining east and west, so I am not talking about taking away the hill view either). If we could do that and give the players a tunnel to come through (rather than a chain link fence) on game day that would be HUGE!

rolo2383 12 years, 7 months ago

As I sit here at my desk at my low paying job I take pride in the decisions I make about what would be best for the University of Kansas football program. My final decision is that we need to get rid of those seats in the south end zone. Kenhil has a good idea about putting lower level seating in to close out the bowl once the track is dynamited and the field is lowered. Putting luxury boxes above the student section on the east side is a splendid idea. Also putting a second level of seating in the north end zone will close out my contribution to this matter. I'm sure once Lew Perkins reads my post he will rush to meet with all the important people to change their plans. ;)

Scott Tichenor 12 years, 7 months ago

The fact that this program is starting to be a true national powerhouse apparently is disturbing to the whining turds that prefer it to be like the days not so long ago when KU played K-State and got beat something like 71-0. The program is getting bigger and better, and with that comes money, butts in seats, and first-class facilities. Get used to it.

Code_2008 12 years, 7 months ago

I'm sorry, but unless athletics plans on building a Track and Field Stadium or Temporary seats that can be set over the track during football season, I don't think that removing the track is an option at this time.

Secondly, we don't even fill all the seats. When I am on the field for Pre-game and Half-time, and I have a few measures of not playing, I look up and notice how we still have a LOT of empty seats. Why expand if we can't fill up what we have now?

Just my two cents.

jimbo4584 12 years, 7 months ago

Club seating is a great addition to Memorial...I am sure we are one of the few schools that has a decent football program to not have it. Its not more suites but a more common area. UT is a good example and the 200 club is a great place to watch a game you can have seats or just access to the area. Also they do need to remove those other lazy boy seats and put some kind of endzone beer garden hospitality area in...

cardinal61 12 years, 7 months ago

Lew Perkins and the Athletic Dept. have done a great job in improving facilites at KU. Whenever I see the south end zone seats; however, I think of the scenes in the movie, Wall-E with the fat people in the recliners. Club level seating is worth exploring as long as KU adds seats rather than displaces people who are fortunate to have a good location now but may be unable to afford club level in the same area.

Ryan Gerstner 12 years, 7 months ago

I don't understand all the complaints about the touchdown club. It's a major improvement over what was there before: nothing. I used to think it looked so horrible to see a lot of nothing in that end zone. Even when rewatching the games on TV, I thought the end zone seats looked good.

I'm glad to hear they're thinking about a new club section. I liked the South end zone idea, I just didn't want to sit down there.

Kevin Holt 12 years, 7 months ago

I want to piggy back on what hawkfan20 closed with...I wouldn't want to sit there either...but look at what they did. They took some of the worst seats from which to watch a game, added some cool stuff and now make good $$ off bad seats. Another benefit is that the people that are able to spend the big money don't often make the big's a great idea.

Personally, I could care less either way if the track is there or not. If it would lead to more Ws and more $$, I would certainly be on board for it's removal. As far as getting closer to the action though, there are almost always seats available on the first few rows because those are not good viewing seats. Fun to sit there yes, but it's a tough sight line.

that_guy 12 years, 7 months ago

I miss the South end zone bleachers :(

COjayrocks 12 years, 7 months ago

I also don't see a huge problem with the Touchdown club. With that said, I don't want them to expand the scope of that before removing the track. A few thousand subsequent seats would help to fill down from the track removal.

Once that is completed the next step in expansion would be an upper deck above the bowl. There is a gap in height between the east and west top level, and an upperdeck with club level seating (at the top of the lower level bowl seating) would be perfect.

Priority 1: Do not block the view from the hill to the stadium.

bigjaybabyjay 12 years, 7 months ago

Obstacle #1: You are going to need to find funding in a bad economy after a $31 mil. Football Facility and a proposed $55 mil. Fieldhouse/Student Support renovation.

Obstacle #2: Next you have to consider whether or not it is feasible to lower the field. When they renovated Memorial last they ran into many obsticles including underground water and bedrock. Plus you have to maintain the structural integrity of a very old stadium.

Obstacle #3: Before you even start to lower the field you first have to build a track complex.

So I say let them do whatever they can to increase revenue to make this a possibility(minus the complaining).

number1jayhawker 12 years, 7 months ago

From what I've heard in the past they are taking the track out after this year's KU Relays. The field will not be lowered but will be leveled to simulate the two new practice fileds. Hopefully this will help the view of the lower rows.

If they did lower the field and added more rows, seems to me they would still have the same problem with viewing from the lower rows. If you have ever sat in the bottom row at Arrowhead, then you know what I mean. And how would this change the line of view from the other upper seats? Would lowering the field change your line of view and make your sight blocked by the people in front of you? Something to think about.

Rick Arnoldy 12 years, 7 months ago

Living (too) far away, I often have to listen to the opposing team's broadcast of games. The announcers routinely trash Memorial Stadium. If it were my choice, I'd demolish the thing and start from scratch. Spend a season at Arrowhead if you have to. I doubt that would happen so anything to improve the current structure is a step forward. Start by removing the track and getting fans closer to the field. I'm not opposed to suites, just make them close enough that they still have good views when the track does inevitably come out. I'll never be able to afford a suite but the people/corporations that do fund the program.

indyhawk 12 years, 7 months ago

I agree with Bigjaybabyjay -- You need to make sure the integrity of the stadium is still there -- it is the oldest west of the Mississippi and you need to consider the economy!! Also -- I thought there was talk of a track facility for the relays over where the old practice fields are? Am I wrong on this?

jesusisajhawk 12 years, 7 months ago

The University of Iowa built a new club section and press box a few years ago that is awesome. They took out there old press box and rebuilt it in the same place, it is in the same position as Memorial Stadium's press box. Their new box is four stories. The first stories is all media, the second is cool because it has about ten rows of seats outside and then an indoor lounge with food, beer, and a ton of flat screen TVs so you don't miss any of the game in line or in the bathroom. The top two floors are all private suites much like the current suites in Memotial Stadium. It is very cool and I think if KU is going to do something like this they should check out what Iowa did with their facility.

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