No kidding: Kansas wants infants to have tickets

LAWRENCE, Kan. -- When Kansas football fans Owen and Lisa Foust headed to the Jayhawks' season opener last Saturday, they bundled up their daughter to go along.

But when they presented their tickets at the gate, they were told they would need an additional $35 ticket for their child.

Kate Foust is 3 months old.

"I just thought it was pretty tacky," Owen Foust said. "It's just a grab for money."

Kansas began enforcing the babies-pay policy three or four years ago, said Kansas associate athletic director Jim Marchiony.

"Everybody needs a ticket regardless of age," Marchiony said. "The very small children come with backpacks and bottles and toys. ... We've received numerous complaints over the years from people who are sitting next to those people -- enough for us to know that even those sized children need the space."

And, Marchiony said, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has recommended that organizations require tickets for everyone at large events as a way to keep track of numbers.

The Fousts, both University of Kansas graduates, said they didn't mind paying something for Kate to get into the game, but they didn't think it should be a full-priced ticket.

"This is supposed to be a family-friendly environment," Owen Foust said. "I don't think that policy promotes that [environment] much."

Kate -- and any other child under 3 -- would be able to get in free for a Kansas City Chiefs game.

"It's a question of the actual seat," Chiefs spokesman Bob Moore said. "If there's no one sitting in the seat, then there's no reason to sell the seat."

Moore said he thought most professional football teams have the same policy.

Among Kansas' Big 12 Conference rivals, Fans younger than 2 can get in free to see the Missouri Tigers or Kansas State Wildcats, and those younger than 1 don't need tickets at Iowa State.

"We just felt like a 1-year-old doesn't take up that much room," said Matt Johnson, director of ticket operations at Iowa State. "We get calls all the time saying: 'Thanks for not making our 2-month-old pay."'

But Nebraska, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Texas all charge for babies who are brought to games.

"Our stadium is sold out on a season-ticket basis with a long waiting list," said Keith Mann, spokesman at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. "Everyone has to have a ticket."

Making exceptions for babies "leads to too much decision-making at the gate," said Kenny Mossman, athletic department spokesman at Oklahoma.

Texas women's athletic director Christine Plonsky argues that safety is an issue.

"The ruler here of stadium and game management is our fire marshal," she said.

The Fousts say the policy won't dampen their Kansas spirit.

"Kate will probably go to some games," Owen Foust said. "And we certainly want Kate to be a KU graduate someday."