Kansas University's fund-raising arm, The Williams Education Fund, has loosened its restrictions on donors who request to sit in the same seats at Memorial Stadium from year to year.
“A lot of our football ticket holders like to know where they're sitting, like to sit with the same people every year, that kind of thing,” said Jim Marchiony, KU's associate athletic director for public affairs. “And what we're doing this year opens that opportunity up.”
The option that's known by the university as the Same-As-Last-Year (SALY) seating plan is now available to lower-level donors on an every-other-year basis, according to Doug Banks, one of KU's associate ADs for development.
Under the previous format, only those donors who gave money at the Hall of Fame level — $50,000 and above, annually — were allowed to request the same seating location as the previous season. The rest of the season-ticket population was required to go through the select-a-seat process each year. The select-a-seat process prioritizes ticket holders and determines the seating chart each year using a point system based on their donations to the Williams Fund.
The new guidelines offer the SALY program to any donor at the Rock Chalk level, defined as someone who gives $1,000 or more a year, for football tickets, and any donor at the All-American level — $10,000 or more a year — for basketball tickets.
“We're trying to give back a little bit,” Banks said. “We've asked people to dig into their pocketbooks every year and play that point game, and this idea was designed as a sort of thank you to give them a year of reprieve from select-a-seat.”
Both of the lower limits are for this year only, which, according to the WEF calendar, runs from Feb. 1 through next March 13. Next year, the minimum donation amount for SALY will return to its previous level of $50,000, but in 2015 it will dip back down to the $1,000 (football) and $10,000 (basketball) levels enjoyed this year. The current every-other-year structure will continue through 2017.
“Our thoughts are, 'Let's lay this out through 2017 so people can at least feel comfortable that it's not going to change at least until then so they can make some plans,'” Banks said.
The SALY seating plan is not a requirement for donors who meet the criteria, merely one option. Anyone interested in continuing to participate in the select-a-seat process annually may do so and will be slotted based on their WEF point total.
Select-a-seat for the 2013 football season begins May 13. Anyone donating between $100-$999 will automatically participate.
“Nothing is being taken away,” Marchiony emphasized. “We're offering the SALY option to many, many donors who've never had that option.”