John Currie explains why K-State benefits from occasional Thursday football games

The wait is over. This afternoon, Kansas State announced that it will play Auburn on Sept. 18, a Thursday, next season. With that, the Wildcats’ 2014 football schedule is finally set.

K-State had been waiting on ESPN, which will televise the Auburn game nationally, for a decision on the date of the game.

When asked in December about the possibility of moving the Auburn game to a Thursday, Wildcats football coach Bill Snyder had this to say: “It’s the last thing in the world I want to do.”

Weekday games are always met with mixed reactions in Manhattan. While some are excited about playing in front of a large audience, others complain of inconveniences such as rushing to the game after work.

On Monday, K-State athletic director John Currie explained why he supports (occasionally) playing football games on Thursday in a letter to fans.

From the letter:

First, playing on Thursday (occasionally) as one of only a couple of games nationally provides enormously more exposure for K-State and Manhattan in general rather than being one of several dozen games on Saturday. Schools very similar to K-State, like Virginia Tech and Clemson, have dramatically enhanced their programs’ (and school) national brand position over the last 20 years by playing Thursday night games at home almost every year. As we enter the College Football Playoff era strength of schedule will be more important than ever, while our returning stars like Tyler Lockett and Ryan Mueller will have a great chance to earn more national credibility on a wider stage.

We also understand how important home game weekends are to our local business community, and since my arrival in 2009 we have made a commitment to have seven home games (rather than six on the schedules we inherited) each year. We last played a home Thursday game in 2010 and until this past season that game against Nebraska was one of our best attended games ever. We also typically have a higher student attendance on weeknight contests. I have talked to several merchants then and since — many reported that their Friday and Saturday sales did not drop as much as they expected as lots of our fans chose to make it a three-day weekend. Retailers often say Saturday 11 a.m. games hurt their businesses, while our local restauranteurs don’t like evening games, so regardless of what game day and time we are assigned, there is no perfect scenario. In fact, I was recently approached at church by a father who was anxious to schedule his daughter’s wedding on that Saturday in Manhattan, but only, of course, if our game was moving to Thursday!

Also, the Big 12 Conference is contractually obligated to our television partners to provide a number of Thursday and non-traditional game dates each season. You’ll recall a few years back during conference realignment times we were vividly reminded that being in a strong and viable conference is not a privilege we should ever take for granted. Hosting one of the Big 12′s contractually required Thursday night games is an important way for K-State to bring value to the league.

K-State’s 2014 football schedule is a strange one. It plays Iowa State in Week 2, it plays two Thursday games and it gets three bye weeks. That means there will be five Saturdays in which the Wildcats don’t play.

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Twitter: @KellisRobinett