University of Kansas donors will be inheriting two more prime-position sections from students for basketball games at Allen Fieldhouse, the result of an agreement between KU Athletics and the student senate finalized last week.
Section 19 — a group of 420 seats adjacent to KU’s bench in the middle and upper sections — will be reallocated to boosters as part of an arrangement that will lower students’ season-ticket combo packs from $179 to $159.
One reason for the compromise was a change in student attendance. In the past, KU Athletics has reserved roughly 4,000 tickets for students at home games, though the number of students showing up has declined recently, according to associate athletic director Jim Marchiony.
In short: KU students with a ticket next season are still guaranteed a spot in the fieldhouse. Now, though, their location will be consolidated to the other student-reserved sections in the end zones.
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Mady Womack, KU’s student body president, said discussions with KU Athletics have been ongoing since before she took office in April.
“I think students read, ‘Oh, we’re losing student seats again.’ Students obviously always will be upset,” Womack said. “But the reality is, our student attendance numbers … this will still leave us with plenty of seats to be above even the peak student attendance in the last 10 years. So I’m not concerned about any students not getting a seat.”
There’s one other main benefit in the pact for KU students: The athletic department will reserve 20 season tickets for Pell Grant-eligible, low-income and first-generation students. Those seats will be given away for free through a lottery on a game-by-game basis.
“To me, it’s a game-changer when we’re talking about how to make everyone feel valued on our campus,” Womack said, “and how to provide the best Jayhawk experience that we can.”
Marchiony said KU Athletics already has begun to sell the Section 19 seats. To be eligible, a booster must be at the All-American level, which requires a minimum $10,000 donation each year. From there, season tickets are $1,650 in rows 1-11 and $1,275 in rows 12 and above.
Womack said the reduced price of the sports combo pack — it includes season tickets to football and men’s basketball — was lower than most of KU’s peer institutions. The agreed-upon contract, she said, also stipulated that KU Athletics must discuss any future sports combo price increases with student senate representatives.
“We give the student leaders a lot of credit for proactively looking for ways to reduce cost for their fellow students,” Marchiony said.
This is the second time in three years that KU students have been transplanted from a sought-after seating section. In 2014, KU Athletics switched 120 seats in Section U — the location directly in front of Section 19 — to a donor location as a response to KU’s student government voting to eliminate a student fee that provided the athletic department with more than $1 million annually. The student senate responded to that change with a statement saying it was “unfortunate that Kansas Athletics was unable to compensate for the student fee cut in a way that would not eliminate some of the best student seats in Allen Fieldhouse.”
The newest change appears to be a more amicable arrangement for both sides.
“The way I see it, students were not using all the seats that we had, and those seats were going to donors anyway who were paying for them,” Womack said. “So from my end, being able to broaden the access to the KU basketball experience is paramount, making that available to students who right now can’t afford to go.”