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Sunday, June 26, 2011

KU renovating Touchdown Club in south end zone

Fans watch the Kansas football spring game from a trial version of the renovated Touchdown Club in the south end zone at Memorial Stadium.

Fans watch the Kansas football spring game from a trial version of the renovated Touchdown Club in the south end zone at Memorial Stadium.

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Jeff Jacobsen/Kansas Athletics Photo

Fans watch the Kansas football spring game from a trial version of the renovated Touchdown Club in the south end zone at Memorial Stadium.

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.

Comments

ahpersecoachingexperience 3 years, 1 month ago

“Too often people get complacent and don’t make changes, and that’s when it starts to go bad,”

You have seen the giant 1/4 mile track that circles the field?

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Rock_Chalk_NYC 3 years, 1 month ago

Right on! Get rid of that lame track!!! Embarrassing!!!

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Joseph Kuebel 3 years, 1 month ago

Yea, Def embarrassing, totally not a football savvy move. Coast to coast real fans even mizzou fans can agree on that.

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Funhawk 3 years, 1 month ago

In today's world, technology and electronics are all around us. That huge board is blocking the view of memories. Oh well......fun was a grassy seat on the hill provided by a beautiful fall Saturday for Jayhawk football. I love KU football.

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Jhawk100 3 years, 1 month ago

Someone please call the whambulance! The crybabies are out in full force!

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hawksta84 3 years, 1 month ago

As long as there's a Freaking track around the ftball field, we'll always be second rate. That should be at the top of the list when it comes to renovations!

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Keith Hummel 3 years, 1 month ago

I really don't understand why we can't just close that end in and be done with it. How much can you honestly see from the hill these days anyway. Watching games from the hill has always been grossly overrated in my opinion. if this latest gimmick helps grease the skids for closing in that end, then I'm all for it. But if they are about to spend a bunch of money doing it I would rather they put that money toward new grandstands. Of course this is a moot point if they can't fill the seats they already have.

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squawkhawk 3 years, 1 month ago

Are you kidding. We can't fill the stadium as it is now let alone adding 20,000 more seats.

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Keith Hummel 3 years, 1 month ago

Agree - thus my last sentence. The eternal optimist in me is "hoping" we will have a competitive football team sometime soon, and we will eventually need those extra seats (go ahead ahperse - call me a Homer). Your right though - currently they would be empty.

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ahpersecoachingexperience 3 years, 1 month ago

totally agree. even back in the day when there was no scoreboard or south endzone seats you couldn't see what was going on. now with the seats and tents the only place you can see the field the top coner of the hill.

and besides the track creating a lack of crowd noise an entire open end of the stadium is just as bad. so here is the idea. and before you criticize, this article is about adding a luxury suite and reducing the price of the ticket. which makes perfect sense;) find some sort of temporary aluminum seats, same as the existing south endzone ones. curve them from the end of the existing stadium to somewhere around the scoreboard above the south enzone seats. obviously we are not going to see a rush of fans so we go jacksonville jauar style are tarp off existing memorial seats (say in the corners and upper north endzone) that are out of the tv camera views.

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KanFan27 3 years, 1 month ago

We cannot fill the endzone because that would kill the walk down the hill for graduation. I don't like the look of the open stadium, but that tradition is too old to toss out.

If we want to add seats (which with our current attendance is not worth talking about anyway) we should fill out the rest of the bowl on the other side. It would be much less expensive and still create a great deal of seating.

I do think that the stadium would look much better if we were to take out the track. We look too much like a high school. The seats it would add and how much closer the fans would be would create so much more noise and a much better atmosphere.

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Keith Hummel 3 years, 1 month ago

It wouldn't "kill" the walk down the hill, you just wouldn't be able to see them coming down the hill from within the stadium. I was there this year for graduation, and I can tell you I spent most of my time either watching that ginormous screen or watching the field in front of me. With all the people lining the sidewalks on the hill I could barely make out when they were walking down it. The video screen provided a much better view. Plus, if you want to experience the walk you line the sidewalks or find a spot on the hill. I think this is one tradition that could be tweaked a little.

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Dirk Medema 3 years, 1 month ago

I don't think the south end zone should be completely closed in, but it could be to a certain height. I think the view out to the hill and campanile is part of what makes our place special.

When closing in the south end, it wouldn't be teribly difficult to make a rather grand, arched entrance to be used by both graduates and the team. It could start a new tradition and be a bookend to the walk through the campanile.

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Keith Hummel 3 years, 1 month ago

Like it!!! Great ideas. Hope someone in a position of authority is listening (er...reading).

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squawkhawk 3 years, 1 month ago

Stadium seating ...$1800 KU Big 12 football bottom feeders...priceless

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ahpersecoachingexperience 3 years, 1 month ago

doing some quick math on the recliners:

if errrrrrrrrr, i mean IF they sell the seats out for the season Turner's product on the field will cost us around 70k in south endzone recliner seats alone.

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Andy Tweedy 3 years, 1 month ago

GET RID OF THE TRACK! And while I don't want to be on the"whambulance" (never heard that before, pretty funny), I wouldn't pay for those seats. I was in the endzone for the 21-20 Nebraska game and saw the 2-point conversion attempt right in front of me. While that was pretty cool, Banks Floodman's assessment of 50% of the action is right in front of you is nuts. Even if your team is driving down the field with regularity and scores 3 touchdowns in that endzone during the game, half of those drives are still starting at the other end of the field. And if you suck like we did last year, the only team your watching is the opponent or our own players' backs. It's a nice spin, Banks, but there's a reason endzone seats are the cheapest. Oh, and one other thing: GET RID OF THE TRACK!!!

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Keith Hummel 3 years, 1 month ago

I agree with the "get rid of the track" sentiment, but they need to build the "Olympic Village" before they can do that. Also, everyone calling for the removal of the track is assuming the field can be lowed to allow for additional seating. I've been told by some folks that this may not even be possible due to drainage issues. So if you remove the track but can't lower the field, what have you gained? I would love to see a little reporting on the feasibility of actually lowering that field by the LJW.

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Keith Hummel 3 years, 1 month ago

sorry - meant to type "lowered", not "lowed".

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Dirk Medema 3 years, 1 month ago

You wouldn't have to lower the field - that's just one option.

Another option is to raze 1/2 to 2/3 of the seating, and shift the entire field 10 - 20 yards to the west. An incidental benefit of doing this includes the ability to steepen the new eastern and northern seating area and square off the end zone. This would bring all the action and sound that much closer while keeping the main seating/press box area intact (saving $).

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Keith Hummel 3 years, 1 month ago

Ahhh...cool! Thank you. I appreciate the explanation. Makes sense.

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Joseph Kuebel 3 years, 1 month ago

Not if you have a brain. Not even close to a possibility. Restructuring drains and/or digging and putting flood resistance under the field would be the way around the "knocking out close to every seat in the house" (terrible, really a truly dumb) idea.

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Joseph Kuebel 3 years, 1 month ago

All u would have to do is move 2/3 the stadium??? Yea... all u would have to do is knock down the entire stadium seating and rebuild it 20 ft higher???? Is what u r saying. Concrete isn't mobile (Even tho your home might be)... Saving $???? No. Not gonna happen? Yes.

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Greg Ledom 3 years, 1 month ago

I played in the AD Special Olympics golf tournament this past Friday, and had the pleasure of meeting our new AD. One of the questions I asked him was about continued renovations (second level restrooms and concessions for instance) at Memorial. The first thing he said was we have to get the track out of there. He followed that up with a comment of as long as we have a track in the stadium, we're sending a message that we are not serious about football. I also asked him about coach Gill, and his thoughts there knowing he would have to craft his response carefully. Once again, I liked his answer. He didn't throw daggers or roses, but simply said, we need people like coach Gill to be successful. My guess is he will doing everything within his ability to make that so, and if it doesn't work, is fully prepared to make the decision to move on. I'm also hoping coach Gill can be successful, and it will take bowl games for him to stay around. I sensed that the AD plans on giving him at least 4 of his 5 years to show progress.

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Joseph Kuebel 3 years, 1 month ago

Thx for the insider info. Nice to know there may finally be and end to the track ( now given agreement by the ad it officially can be deemed "tha circus ring")...

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jhox 3 years, 1 month ago

I've sat in the end zone recliners at a couple of games, and it is kind of a cook experience, but the viewing angle isn't nearly as good as my regular season tickets. It has it's advantages, such as seeing holes open up, and seeing touchdowns happen right in front of you. The big advantage, of course, is the food and refreshements, and the cute girls who wait on on you. The flat panel TV's in front of the recliners don't work well on sunny days, so it's tough to know where the ball is being spotted. I'd gladly go back as a visitor, because it is a great way to spend a day (with your feet up, reclined, driniking beer and being waited on by some cute coed.) However, I would not give up my own season tickets and the much better viewing angle they provide. They're certainly not worth the price of the season tickets.

I wish beer sales were allowed to the general public at games. That would likely generate enough income to get rid of the track and put fans closer to the field. I can't recall if it is the state or if it is the Big 12 who won't allow beer sales, but it is unfortunate.

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texashawk10 3 years, 1 month ago

Alcohol sales at college stadiums are up to the individual universities. KU is supposed to be a dry campus, but they choose not to enforce that rule on gamedays during pregame tailgating. I do think allowing alcohol sales would be a nice boost in revenue to the university because it's not that hard to smuggle alcohol into the stadium for games. I know at KState that if you are 21 or older you are allowed to have alcohol in the dorms, but I don't know if they have alcohol sales at the football games or not though.

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sdoyel 3 years, 1 month ago

These are trash. Looks like mobile homes parked there. I appreciate the effort, but this is a HUGE FAIL.

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Jacobpaul81 3 years, 1 month ago

Well, a mobile home was all they could afford after Tom gambled everyone's money away.

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Jayhawk444 3 years, 1 month ago

For the past several years, my seats have been in the family zone, which is the north bowl end zone. I can say from experience that when the action is near the opposite end zone, the view is terrible. I resort to watching the jumbotron. But that option will not be available to anybody sitting in these new suites. Maybe they'll have their own flat screens?

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Geekinout 3 years, 1 month ago

Sadly, the best seat in the house is at Rick's Place... with a frosty beverage to ease the pain for the 2nd half.

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FreddyinLA 3 years, 1 month ago

Get rid of the track. Move field as close as possible to bowl. Add seats in the bowl to the same level as the sideline seating or add a row of luxury boxes in the bowl like Lambeau Field in Green Bay.

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squawkhawk 3 years, 1 month ago

Kind of funny but at KSU the end zone seats are the cheap family seats. LOL at anybody who would pay a lot of money for these seats.

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Jacobpaul81 3 years, 1 month ago

Can they remodel "Kivisto" off our Stadium?

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Joseph Kuebel 3 years, 1 month ago

Only if you can pay for our stadium to be rebuilt 20-30 feet higher (sarcasm, to one of the above comments who seemingly has a similar iq to yours)... After you donate 10 mil you can propose that idea!

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ku_tailg8 3 years, 1 month ago

I agree with some of you about losing the track. bring in the bulldozers and lower the field to allow the seating there is now to transition right to the field. Draining might have to be replaced but they could actually put chair back seats along the sidelines and get more money.

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texashawk10 3 years, 1 month ago

The top construction priority for KU now should be getting the Olympic Village built so that the track can be removed from the stadium. Hopefully the money that has been raised for the new luxury boxes for the east side of the stadium will be allowed to finish these renovations first. I don't think the south end of the stadium should be completely filled in but maybe like 5000 permanent seats with backs. I would also put seatbacks on the season ticket holder sections on the west of the stadium and leave the student section as bleachers. The proposed luxury boxes on the east side of the stadium should the last thing done to the stadium as a couple dozen luxury suites don't add nearly the revenue as a couple thousand season tickets would. Outside of Allen Fieldhouse, the rest of venues at KU are vastly subpar compared to the rest of the conference and the country. If I were in charge of the Olympic Village build, I would build it over on west campus where the rec fields are because there is more potential for major upgrades over there and would allow Hougland to be upgraded and become a baseball stadium capable of having games broadcast from it. Other than the video board in right field, Hougland is probably the worst stadium in the Big 12. The sites of the current softball and soccer fields could be turned into the rec fields which would be more convenient for students who live on campus who participate on rec teams.

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danno1313 3 years, 1 month ago

I ll live with the stadium as it is. FIX THE TEAM! DUH!

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LeBo 3 years, 1 month ago

The stadium is a great mixture of old and new. What happen to the Gridiron club? (rhetorical question) The Alumni Association will never allow the stadium south end to be built up. It is very beautiful. I took my girlfriend on the slope then she became my wife. Chicks dig grass!

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