When the No. 1.-seeded KU Jayhawks land in Wichita later this week for first- and second-round games in the NCAA Tournament, the team is likely to have a serious home court advantage.
The Wichita area already is home to nearly 11,000 KU alumni, and the majority of the rest of them live within an easy drive – in Kansas City, Dallas, St. Louis and Denver.
In other words, said Jennifer Jackson Sanner, the KU Alumni Association’s senior vice president for public affairs, expect an influx of crimson and blue in Wichita later this week.
“We couldn’t ask for a better location,” she said on Sunday, after KU’s No. 1 seed and Wichita destination was announced. “We’ll have Jayhawks converging from all over.”
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Jayhawk alumni and fans with and without tickets will be able to cheer for the team at special events that the KU Alumni association has planned for later this week.
Three hours before game time on Thursday (and on Saturday, assuming the Jayhawks advance), a KU pep rally will happen at the 6,000-square-foot glass tent that’s been erected by the Brick + Mortar venue just west of the arena off Emporia Street. The game on Thursday is scheduled to happen at 1 p.m., meaning the rally should start at 10 a.m.
Throughout the tournament, the glass tent will be hosting parties, concerts and gatherings and are calling their event “Battle of the Brackets.” The Jayhawks’ first-round game is against the University of Pennsylvania, a No. 16 seed.
Dozens of fans, many wearing Jayhawk gear, gathered at the tent on Sunday night to watch the selection show and cheered loudly when it was announced that the team would play in Wichita. Even the event staff was wearing KU gear.
The rallies at the glass tent will feature appearances by KU band, cheerleaders, mascots and Rock Chalk Dancers, and the alumni association will be there selling KU merchandise. KU Alumni Association members who show their cards will qualify for a special gift.
Food and drink will be for sale inside the tent, which will feature a 30-foot bar, a stage, more than 10 large-screen televisions and an LED video wall. Fire pits and more bars will be set up outside. The glass tent will be open from noon to 7 p.m. on Wednesday, from 9 a.m. to 2 a.m. Thursday, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on and Friday and from 8 a.m. to 2 a.m. Saturday.
People who don’t have tickets to the games can stay and watch them broadcast at the glass tent.
The official watch party bar for KU fans in Wichita is Public at the Brickyard, 129 N. Rock Island, and the open-air Brickyard Bar will be open starting on Wednesday.
Fans who need more information can follow along at the KU Alumni Association website, http://www.kualumni.org/events/hawks-and-hoops/.