SBJ/March 13-19, 2017/Colleges

IMG College provides chairs to help lure back Kansas fans

The University of Kansas is working with IMG College to offer its fans for the first time a seatback chair with the purchase of a football season ticket.

The struggling Jayhawks program averaged just 25,828 fans in 50,071-seat Memorial Stadium last season and the seatbacks are considered a fan amenity that the school hopes will spur attendance. All of the permanent seats in the stadium’s bowl are bleachers without seatbacks.

The chairs being provided by IMG College’s seating arm will be cushioned and provide back support, said Kim Parsons, vice president of IMG’s business ventures. These types of seatback chairs are bolted into the bleacher and remain there for the season.

Kansas averaged just 25,828 fans last season in Memorial Stadium, which has a capacity of 50,071.
Photo by: GETTY IMAGES


Parsons said this new inclusive model is something that IMG will pitch as an alternative to its 100 college clients and could be a way for the IMG division to increase the 525,000 seats and seatbacks it had in circulation across its venues in 2016.

“Kansas approached us because it’s something they wanted to do,” Parsons said. “They’re looking to provide this premium amenity to roll out for all of their season-ticket holders. All schools are looking to improve their fan experience and this is a natural extension of that.”

Kansas in the past has leased the seatbacks to its fans at a cost of $42 for the season, or $10 per game, and it shared revenue with IMG. Through that model, IMG leased 2,000 to 2,500 seats to Jayhawks fans per season.

That type of revenue-share model is typically how IMG’s deals work with its clients in college, auto racing, NFL and MLB teams, and other sports and entertainment venues.

Under the new model that includes the seatback with the ticket, Kansas is paying IMG a flat fee to provide the seats to season-ticket holders. It’s all outlined in a new five-year agreement between the school and the provider.

The seats also provide a little more incentive to fans at a time when the Jayhawks are challenged to sell tickets because of the team’s performance. Kansas has won just two games over the past two seasons, and the last time the Jayhawks won more than three games was 2009.

Matt Baty, associate athletic director for Kansas’ sales and marketing, is running point on the deal for the school.

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