Jerry Jones and the new Cowboys Stadium in Dallas might have the most gaudy luxury viewing area in football, but Kansas University is closing in.
The best part about KU’s version of the luxury deck is that fans can actually watch the game from it, unlike the overflow area at Cowboys Stadium.
This season, KU’s Touchdown Club will receive a facelift that should provide one of the most unique gameday viewing opportunities in the Big 12 Conference, if not the country.
Instead of just providing covered recliners and stools in the south end zone as has been the case for the past two seasons, the area below the giant, state-of-the-art scoreboard at Memorial Stadium now will feature a 60-by-20-foot enclosed, glass suite.
A trial version of the new addition was up for the spring game in April. It featured two separate 20-by-30 suites situated side-by-side and was taken down before graduation in May. By the time the season rolls around, the completed version will be finished and available to anybody who wants to shell out the dough to enjoy their games in style.
“It’s kind of like a one-stop shop for everything you could want at a football game,” said Banks Floodman, KU’s assistant athletic director for development. “And it’s very luxurious. That’s really the exciting new aspect of it this year, that new indoor suite. If it starts raining and people want to get out of the elements, they can go in there and watch the football game.”
During the first two years of its existence, the Touchdown Club delivered about like the team on the field. During its first season, in 2009, it was sold out and packed for nearly every game. Last year, interest dwindled as the Jayhawks struggled to a 3-9 record.
Despite the parallels between the team’s performance and the Touchdown Club’s attendance, Floodman said the university would’ve upgraded the section anyway.
“Too often people get complacent and don’t make changes, and that’s when it starts to go bad,” he said. “I think if you dress it up a little more and create some new things, it excites people again. I want to get people in there, and I want to get people fired up, and what a great place to do it.”
The new look is not the only thing about the Touchdown Club that’s changing. Prices are dropping, too.
In the past, the recliner seats ran $2,650 each for a season ticket. This year, they’re down to $1,800 for the season. The cost to reserve the sport stools also has dropped, from $1,500 to $1,200. New to the area this season, thanks to the luxury suite that will sit behind and above the actual seats, is a standing-room-only option, which can be purchased at a price of $1,000 for the season.
Included in all three prices are all-you-can-eat food catered by 23rd Street Brewery and Abuelos, all-you-can-drink beverages, which includes soda, water, beer and wine, private restrooms and a full-time wait staff.
Floodman said most of the feedback he had received about why interest in the new seating area dipped last season was tied to the notion that it’s not a great place to watch the game from.
“I think the misconception about the Touchdown Club is that because it’s in the end zone, the sight lines aren’t that good,” he said. “To be honest with you, I think the south end zone, any end zone, is a phenomenal place to watch a game, especially because you’re that close. Fifty percent of the time, you have the ball right in front of you with someone getting ready to score in front of you, and then the other 50 percent of the time, the individuals in this area are gonna be the first ones to see the play develop. It’s kind of neat to watch that hole open up and be able to see that before anyone else.”
Floodman said a few final kinks currently were being worked out and that the final version would be ready by the time two-a-day practices start in August.
“It’s definitely gonna be ready and rockin’ and rollin’ by that first game,” he said.
KU opens the season Sept. 3 against McNeese State at Memorial Stadium.