KU mulls Gridiron Club

Friday, February 27, 2009

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.”