Fall-like conditions weren’t enough to keep Kansas Jayhawks basketball fans away from a pep rally Saturday in the Power & Light District.
Hours before the Jayhawks tipped off in the Sprint Center against the Oregon Ducks in the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament, hundreds of spirited KU fans were in a festive mood in the district’s Kansas City Live courtyard.
The rally featured the KU pep band and cheerleaders and highlights from previous games. The school’s fight song was played. “Go KU” shout outs were plentiful as was the ever present Rock, Chalk chant.
The temperature — Saturday’s high was in the upper 50s — wasn’t enough to dissuade fans such as Bret Talbott’s party of seven from pregame activities. He planned to view the game outside on KC Live’s big screen with a daughter, a niece and the niece’s boyfriend.
“No,” Talbott said when asked if he was concerned about the weather. “It’s perfect out here.”
Talbott had tickets to the game but decided to give it to another daughter instead. She attended the game with her boyfriend and a brother.
Talbott, a Halstead, Kan. resident, said he wanted to feel the vibe of KC Live during the game.
“I would much rather be out here, then inside just because of the screaming and the hollering and everybody having a blast,” Talbott said. “The people, the vibe, it’s a trip.”
If the Jayhawks beat Oregon and advance to the Final Four in Phoenix, Talbott and a son will be there, a tradeoff for giving away a ticket to Saturday’s game.
“I bought my son and my daughter and her boyfriend good tickets in (the Sprint Center),” Talbott said. “We split ’em up just to have a blast.”
The rally spilled over to No Other Pub, where several hundred more basketball fans reveled. Jayhawks fans were wall to wall. Oregon fans were few, if any.
Some planned to watch the game from the pub, others were there to mingle before heading to the Sprint Center.
Brandon Haberman, 39, of Topeka snacked on pretzels as game time neared. Haberman, a 2000 KU graduate, could hardly wait for tipoff. He predicated a KU victory.
“It’s going to be crazy mayhem down here if we do,” Haberman said.