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Kansas State football: A farewell to Arrowhead for the near future

MANHATTAN — Farmageddon fans are advised to enjoy today's game at Arrowhead Stadium. It might be the last of its kind.

"I would probably anticipate we'll play Iowa State on campus over the next couple years," Kansas State athletic director John Currie said.

Given K-State coach Bill Snyder's desire to play as many games as possible at home, and Currie's lack of involvement in the original plan to play the Cyclones in a neutral setting — former athletic director Bob Krause oversaw that idea — such a move was to be expected.

But the original parties could have come to the same conclusion.

When the Wildcats and Cyclones agreed to move their series to Kansas City, Mo., it was nothing more than a two-year trial run. Fans gave the matchup a fun nickname that plays off the universities' emphasis on agriculture, but few knew how the game would be received.

Would fans flock to Kansas City as they do for the Border War for Kansas and Missouri? Would tailgaters arrive days in advance like they do in Dallas for the Red River Rivalry? Would it draw national television exposure?

Or would the two teams play in front of mostly empty red seats?

Reality fell somewhere in the middle. Behind the surprising play of Grant Gregory and a last-second blocked extra point by Emmanuel Lamur, K-State won an entertaining game 24-23 last year in front of 40,851 fans and a Fox Sports College television audience.

Fans enjoyed the experience and players liked playing in a NFL stadium. A similar crowd is expected for today's game, and FSN will televise the action. Iowa State coach Paul Rhoads says he's "all for" continuing the series at Arrowhead.

"It's just an exciting atmosphere to have a chance to play in," Rhoads said. "Our fans love making the trip to Kansas City. I imagine that Kansas State fans do as well. You lose a home game but you also lose a road game, which equals itself out."

Snyder feels differently.

"That would not be my preference," he said, and cited the economic boost home games provide to Manhattan.

Without a sold-out stadium, ESPN cameras or a larger combined payday than the approximately $1.7 million K-State made off the arrangement, Currie will take the side of his coach.

"It almost has to be a kind of a perfect storm of circumstances to make a neutral site game work," Currie said.

Currie said the Wildcats earn around $1.3 million off each game played in Snyder Family Stadium. Even though the Arrowhead deal was worth more on paper, he says "it's essentially a wash" after you figure in travel costs and the extra money it takes to replace the lost home game with a nonconference opponent.

There are advantages to playing neutral-site games. Playing in front of different alumni bases, boosting exposure and recruiting have convinced all but two Big 12 football teams — Nebraska and Oklahoma State — to play one this season.

Currie will continue exploring options for neutral-site football games, as well.

He says K-State has a future in Arrowhead Stadium, and is open to all ideas. Nonconference games and league series will be explored. Taking K-State to a destination other than Kansas City could also be considered.

Currie is open to anything, even if he is down on Farmageddon at the moment.

"From time to time there may be some neutral opportunities that fit," Currie said. "Kansas State and Coach Snyder have a great history of taking advantage of those opportunities."

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