Kansas athletic officials are considering changes to “Late Night in the Phog” after complaints about a lack of crowd control at the event last Friday.
The Kansas City Star
The Late Night festivities mark the official beginning of KU basketball season and fans typically line up for hours before it starts. On Friday afternoon, more than 20,000 fans line up outside Allen Fieldhouse, which was scheduled to open its doors at 5:30 p.m. The lines soon swelled into large crowds surrounding various entrances, and many fans reportedly jumped to the front of the lines when the doors opened. A few fights reportedly broke out and security and crowd control was minimal.
Associate athletic director Jim Marchiony says KU plans to discuss changes that might be needed to control crowds as they wait to be allowed into what has been for years a free event.
“We appreciate and share the concerns some have expressed about entry into Friday night’s Late Night in the Phog,” Marchiony said in a statement on Monday. “We constantly critique ourselves, looking for ways to improve how we conduct our events. Clearly the procedures Kansas Athletics has used effectively for many years at Late Night did not work effectively Friday night. As a result we will review and address all facets of the event, including communication, security, and even whether it should remain a general-admission, no-ticket event.”
Friday’s event was met with great anticipation as KU fans were set to get their first look at highly touted freshman Andrew Wiggins and a heralded six-man freshman class. Actor Rob Riggle, a Kansas City native and KU graduate, played host for part of the night.
On Friday, KU officials said that between 3,000 and 5,000 fans were turned away at the door. KU had previously planned to allow an overflow crowd to watch Late Night on the video board at Hoglund Ballpark, adjacent to Allen Fieldhouse. But inclement weather canceled those plans.
“Late Night is a terrific event that our fans look forward to and enjoy every year,” Marchiony said. “We want to keep it that way — allowing as many fans as possible to be a part of it — while at the same time addressing what must be our Number One concern: the safety of those fans.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report