For Duke fans Scott Kindrick and Randi Lyders, the decision to travel with the basketball team abroad was an obvious one.
The couple is a part of the group of about 60 fans who are paying as much as $13,465 each to travel with the men’s team as it makes its 13-day tour to play basketball across Asia and the Middle East this August. The travel package boasts an all-inclusive itinerary featuring admission to all four of the exhibition games, chartered flights with the team, luxury accommodations, meals, sightseeing excursions and other activities.
Although Kindrick and Lyders are not Duke alumni, the couple traveled from Minneapolis to Durham for every home men’s conference game this season. Lyders, a certified financial planner, said her bond with the University began in 2000 when the parents of former forward Nick Horvath, Trinity ’04 and the 1999 Minnesota Mr. Basketball, became her clients. Three years ago, the couple traveled to Duke for their first game in Cameron Indoor Stadium. Now season ticket holders, they own a second home in the Duke Forest for their frequent visits to campus.
For fans like Kindrick and Lyders, this summer’s trip is a rare opportunity to see the Blue Devils up close.
“It was the easiest decision to make,” Lyders said of traveling with the team. “It was a perfect storm of opportunities for us. I was in China 25 years ago, so I am looking forward to seeing all the ways that I know it has changed since then. And then, add to that we get to spend time with [the Duke basketball] family and everyone that makes that program tick.”
Mike Cragg, senior associate director of athletics, said Duke hopes to add about another 40 names to the list of fans traveling with the team. Given current interest, he does not imagine having any trouble doing so.
The University’s travel agency partner, Anthony Travel, will oversee the trip’s logistical details. The team will play its first game in Kunshan, China—the site of the new campus Duke plans to open next year. From there, the group will travel to Shanghai for a contest and then to Bejiing to the arena where head coach Mike Krzyzewski won a gold medal as coach of Team USA in the 2008 Olympics. The final stop is in Dubai, where the Fuqua School of Business has already established a presence through the Cross Continent MBA program, which makes a stop there, and an administrative office in the Dubai International Financial Center.
Michael Schoenfeld, vice president for public affairs and government relations, noted that the trip offers a unique opportunity for Duke to further advance its image abroad. Although all the current international programs are primarily academically based, he said the popularity of Duke basketball has a lot to offer in promoting Duke’s name to a foreign audience. He called it a “once-in-a-very-long-time chance” to project Duke’s excellence in athletics and academics to a much larger audience.
“Duke basketball is one of the things that makes Duke special, and it’s what gives us the attention that most other institutions can’t hope to have,” Schoenfeld said. “We know that basketball is very popular in China and is growing in popularity, and connecting Duke basketball to the campus in Kunshan and the other programs we have abroad is a great opportunity.”
Schoenfeld noted that the University will help to secure tickets to the team’s games for interested alumni. Given that there is no Ticketmaster or equivalent company in most of the areas the team will be traveling, he noted, most fans will purchase tickets directly through the individual venues.
Traveling with the team will require other preparations. In anticipation for the trip, Lyders said she is learning Chinese. She does not know the words for Cameron Crazie just yet, but she said she “sure is working on it.”
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