There have been occasions when Kobe Bryant has dropped in unannounced at Lower Merion High School, surprising even the administrators and coaches at his alma mater.
Next week won’t be one of those occasions.
A school official said Monday that the district had sold nearly all of the 1,100 tickets for Bryant’s Dec. 16 appearance at the dedication of the gymnasium bearing his name.
This year, Bryant, the perennial all-star and face of the Los Angeles Lakers, donated $411,000 to the Lower Merion School District. The gift, the largest ever to the district, is to help fund “a series of inspirational, interactive, and educational displays” at the newly completed, $100 million high school.
The school board voted to name the gym after Bryant, citing not just his donation but a history of support for the school, whose Aces basketball team he led to a state championship in 1996.
Bryant recently agreed to help raise more money by attending the dedication on a week when the Lakers come to town to play the 76ers on Dec. 17.
Tickets to the dedication are $25 for the public and $10 for students and children 3 to 10. The district has offered to pay for any student who cannot afford a ticket, spokesman Doug Young said. (Lower Merion also charges admission for basketball games.)
The district also sold more than 100 tickets, at $250 each, for a VIP reception with Bryant before the 7:30 p.m. ceremony, Young said.
At least a half-dozen other parties have agreed to buy sponsorships of $1,000 to $10,000, he said. The night will include musical entertainment and other guests whose names have not been released.
Young said students and others in the school community began buying tickets around Thanksgiving. Officials wanted to give them first dibs before announcing the night to the public.
“The feel of the event is very grassroots, very local,” Young said.
The proceeds are to go to the Education Foundation of Lower Merion, a nonprofit formed four years ago to provide a new funding stream for the district.
By John P. Martin