KU changes its game plans to better manage the full football stadium

The Kansas football program set a record for franchise sales and merchandise sales in last week’s sold-out win over Duke.

But that didn’t stop KU administrators from looking for ways to improve the gaming experience for fans, who suddenly started showing up in large numbers to support the 4-0 Jayhawks.

Last week’s game marked the first sale of KU football in three years, and with the schedule tending towards another this weekend, when they host Iowa State at 2:30 p.m. Saturday at the David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium, efforts are being made to make things run smoother this week than they were a week ago.

For the most part, things went well last week, said Jason Booker, KU’s assistant athletic director for external affairs and revenue generation. This was especially true when it came to entering the stadium. But there were issues with the concession stands, and Booker said that’s the area KU officials have focused their attention on the most in recent days.

Booker said the department received several emails with comments or complaints after Saturday’s game and responded to each Monday morning. Beyond that, he said KU administrators walked around the stadium during last Saturday’s game timing the lines at the concession stands and entrance gates looking for “pain points”.

“We are always looking for continuous improvement,” Booker said.

Booker said the two main goals for the past week were to have enough product on hand for fans and to have enough workers to distribute it. This week, the focus is on shortening queues and making the dealership experience quick and efficient.

“Now we know what a full stadium looks like and how people interact with the concession stands and that can help us make sure this week is better than last week,” Booker said.

To that end, KU plans to add 20 new concession outlets throughout the stadium. Most of them will be placed near the southern end zone and in the outer areas of the lobby.

Additionally, they are adding what Booker called “hawkers” to carry refreshments through the stands for quick and easy sales (credit card only) and will also have cash-only concession stands in hopes of speed up the process for those paying with cash.

“We definitely have some limitations here and we know that, but we also know that we can make improvements to address some of them,” Booker said. “We are going to learn and react week by week to how things went the week before. Our job is to make sure we listen to our fans and try to provide the best possible experience for everyone.

In addition to increasing the number of concession stands at the venue, Booker wanted to remind fans that Memorial Stadium has four refillable water stations. Fans are allowed to bring their own unopened water bottles and refill them or they can refill bottles they purchase inside.

For the second week in a row, KU will also be holding a “happy hour” from 1-2 p.m., where concessions will be sold at discounted prices for fans entering the stadium early.

While he doesn’t have definitive numbers, Booker said last week’s happy hour was effective in both getting people in early and easing some of the issues with concessions.

“We’re starting to see people want to move into the stadium earlier,” he said. “The game is again the spectacle.”

As for merchandise, Booker said KU will bring a handful of kiosks on loan from the Kansas City Royals to help fans purchase Kansas football gear. Like Lance Leipold’s program, which shocked college football with his 4-0 start, that number is on the rise.

“Our fans have always had generic Kansas gear or even Kansas basketball stuff, but now they want something with the helmet on it or something that says Kansas Football,” Booker said. “So we’re starting to see an upsurge in people wanting to buy merchandise that’s in line with what Lance and the team are doing on the pitch.”

Booker and the rest of KU’s athletic department realize that things aren’t perfect at Memorial Stadium. And until some sort of large-scale renovation or stadium upgrade is executed, it will likely stay that way.

His hope, however, is that fans retrain to operate in full stadiums and that the powers that be at KU continue to look for ways to make the gaming experience as enjoyable as possible.

“Those are big problems to have,” Booker said. “We might not see the whole game day, and we have 47,000 people who are the eyes and ears for us at the moment and we really appreciate that.”

About Robert James

Check Also

Aries x AS Roma x New Balance collaboration: release date

I’ll say it earlier: Aries and New Balance for AS Roma might just be the …