Hosting football games at Sporting Kansas City’s stadium will cost KU Athletics more than $200K

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Kansas Athletics will pay a rental fee of $100,000 for each of the two football games it plans on hosting at Sporting Kansas City’s Children’s Mercy Park during the upcoming season.

That fee does not include staffing expenses for either game at the stadium, which could add an additional $150,000 to KU Athletics’ costs, nor does it include the revenue-splitting costs which KU must share with Sporting KC, according to a letter of agreement provided in response to an open records request.

As construction continues on David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium that prevents the Jayhawks from playing at home in 2024, the Athletics department had to look to nearby stadiums in Kansas City to host the football program’s six home games.

Two of those games will take place at Children’s Mercy Park, and the other four will take place at Arrowhead Stadium, home of Kansas City’s professional football team.

August Rudisell/Lawrence Times Construction is underway Dec. 21, 2023 at David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium.

Here are some of the key revenue sharing breakdowns from the agreement:

  • Athletics will retain 100% of the games’ net ticket revenue.
  • Certain Sporting KC annual suite holders have a right of first refusal to purchase their regular suites for the games.
  • Sporting KC will retain 100% of the revenue from those suite holders.
  • Any suites left over can be sold to KU Athletics suite holders (KU retains 80% of that revenue).
  • 100% of the revenue from any suites left over and sold to the general public will go to Sporting KC.
  • KU Athletics must give 20% of its revenue from merchandise sold in the stadium to Sporting KC.
  • Sporting KC retains 100% revenue from food and beverage and parking fees.
  • Third-party staffing costs (security, staffing, cleaning, etc.) will be billed to KU up to $150,000.
  • KU must pay for the “reasonable, actual and documented costs and expenses associated with the repair and/or restoration of the playing field.”
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If either party cancels the agreement after March 1, they owe the other a $30,000 liquidated damages fee.

We first requested the agreements to host games at Children’s Mercy Park and Arrowhead Stadium on Jan. 30, the same day KU announced it would play away from Lawrence in the 2024 season. The university provided the Sporting Kansas City contract on Friday but still has not provided the agreement with Arrowhead Stadium, citing personnel limitations in the public records department.

David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium is slated to reopen for the 2025 football season as part of a $448 million Phase I of a project dubbed the Gateway District, which includes a new conference center adjoined to the north side of the stadium.

KU’s 2024 football season kicks off Thursday, Aug. 29 at Children’s Mercy Park against Lindenwood.

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Conner Mitchell (he/him), reporter, can be reached at cmitchell (at) lawrencekstimes (dot) com or 785-435-9264. If you have sensitive information to send Conner, please email connermitchell (at) protonmail (dot) com. Read more of his work for the Times here.

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