Letter from Athletics Director Jeff Long

Dear Jayhawks,

As Coach Les Miles often says, “There is nothing sweeter than the taste of victory,” but it does not come without a few bumps along the way. I am writing today to share an update on our review of the gameday experience from week one.

Like our football team, opening week resulted in a victory but not without a few bumps along the way. Overall, we had a successful and enjoyable opening game but we expect improvement. I want to personally thank every fan who attended the season opener and particularly those who took time to provide us feedback. Here are some notes on the first gameday and some areas where we are working to improve the overall experience.

Notes from Game 1:

  1. We had our biggest walk up ticket sales crowd in 10 years (more on this in the improvements) and our largest attendance since the Sunflower Showdown in 2017. Thank you!
  2. Our team and partners were able to successfully launch alcohol sales without any major incidents or misbehavior. We are happy to report there were no alcohol related medical incidents during game one. Thanks to all of our fans that enjoyed responsibly.
  3. The inaugural Crimson and Blue BBQ competition and tasting was a huge success. The competitors loved the experience and were unanimous in their support of bringing the event back next year and their belief that it can grow! Special thanks to our local friends at the American Royal for their support and guidance during the inaugural event. Fans loved it.
  4. You may have noticed that we did not have one on-field presentation during the game. We’re working hard to cater the gameday experience to the fans and the student section; your feedback has guided us to this point. We won’t eliminate all on-field presentations but we’re working hard to focus our gameday elements on entertaining our fans.
  5. How about the student section? That was one of the largest turnouts in years despite the 11 a.m. kickoff. Student support is up and Coach Miles, the football team and I are thrilled to have them. We can’t achieve a home field advantage without a strong and loud student section.
  6. Something new: we had students on the field during pregame to welcome the team when they came out of the tunnel. Last week, we were testing a new tradition. Now it is established and is something we will do each game with 250-plus students.
  7. If you haven’t already watched episode five of Miles To Go on ESPN+, CLICK HERE. The episode provides an insider’s perspective of the start of Les Miles era. You will see the win from the vantage point of the team, Coach Miles and his family. In addition you will see me get the newspaper from the driveway… you won’t want to miss that!  Overall, great work by ESPN+ and executive producers Sport & Story.

Improvement Measures

  1. One of the hardest elements of any gameday is fine-tuning the playlist with the Marching Jayhawks and our in-house DJ. We serve an audience that ranges from 5-year olds to 80-year olds and few have the same taste in music. One of the areas of feedback we received was about how often the band plays versus canned or pre-recorded music. Many see it as sign of disrespect if the band doesn’t play the majority of the time.  Let me clear the record, we love the band and it is an absolute team effort with the leadership of the Marching Jayhawks, Kansas Marketing and Rock Chalk Video on each and every gameday in Booth Memorial Stadium and Allen Fieldhouse.  Matthew Smith, Director of the Marching Jayhawks, was kind enough to answer the most frequently asked question related to the band. CLICK HERE to read the Q&A.
  2. We heard lots of feedback about long lines at concessions stands. (The good news is there were a lot more fans here; but we can do better.) The lines were manageable until halftime, but this is an area we need to improve. Here are a few new items we will introduce this week:
    • A better re-stocking and production process prior to halftime. We ran out of beverages and some food items, which added to the lines last weekend. Improvements are coming and we are working to utilize every inch of the venue.
    • Line management and line cueing: You will see a few areas where we are testing cued lines like you would see at Disney World. We are only testing this weekend because we want to make sure they are providing faster service and ease of movement on the concourse. Additionally, we are better spacing out our cash registers to make the points of sale clear and create some space as lines develop.
    • We are adding 8-10 more portable points of sale and moving some portable stands away from the permanent locations so that we can limit line confusion.
  3. We had the largest number of walkup ticket buyers in 10 years and that led to lines that pushed into the street and didn’t allow for some folks to get into the game by kickoff. On Saturday we will have six areas dedicated to fans and in-particular walkup buyers. Those areas are listed below:
    • The Main Ticket Office on West Side between Gate 3 and Gate 4;
    • A new pop up location at the Indoor Football Facility, directly across from the Main Ticket Office on West side of the stadium will open at 5 p.m. and have a dedicated Wi-Fi network for mobile ticket purchasers;
    • A pop-up at the Fan Information desk at Gate 13 with a dedicated Wi-Fi network for mobile ticket purchasers;
    • Northwest Ticket booth between Gates 12 and 13;
    • Northeast Ticket booth between Gates 13 and 14;
    • Southeast Ticket booth in between Gate 24 and 26.

There are additional little changes, tweaks and improvements our team is making, but I wanted to highlight for you the areas that presented the most concerns. Once again, thank you for supporting your KU Football team and for taking time to provide feedback on your experiences last week. We strive to improve each and every game.

See you at The Booth on Saturday evening,

Jeff Long