Friday, February 18, 2005

Construction of fieldhouse addition set for this spring

Board of Regents approves naming Hall of Athletics after donors


Allen Fieldhouse's new look has been put on the fast track, a Kansas University athletic department spokesman said Thursday.

Construction on the new addition to the east side of the fieldhouse is scheduled to begin soon after the end of this year's basketball season, spokesman Jim Marchiony said. University officials previously had said groundbreaking could still be two years away for the addition that will house interactive exhibits highlighting the history of KU athletics.

"We hope to start as soon as we can," he said. "We want to have the building completed by the first of the season next year."

Also on Thursday, the Kansas Board of Regents approved the official name of the facility as the Booth Family Hall of Athletics.

Siblings David Booth of Los Angeles, Mark Booth of London and Jane Booth Berkley of Tescott, along with their spouses and children, donated $4 million to the project in honor of their parents, Gilbert and Betty Booth.

"We're very grateful to the Booth family for making the hall a reality," Chancellor Robert Hemenway said. "All Jayhawk fans are going to be impressed by this new and exciting addition to Allen Fieldhouse."

Marchiony said fund raising for the $6 million project was now complete.

Athletics officials have yet to release architectural renderings of the two-story facility, which is being designed by HOK Architects in Kansas City, Mo. But it is expected to include:

The addition is part of $12 million in renovations scheduled surrounding the 50th anniversary of the fieldhouse, which is this year.

Marchiony said the facility should be a gathering place for KU fans and provide a museum-like atmosphere for those who visit the fieldhouse on days when games aren't being played.

"It's a place where you can celebrate Jayhawk athletics in their entirety," he said.

Reaction to the planned addition was mixed on campus Thursday.

Andrew Couey, a sophomore from Andale, said he was concerned about changing the fieldhouse's facade.

"It shouldn't be touched," he said. "Leave it as it is. It's been like that forever -- since like 1954 or something. Don't change it. Don't fix something that ain't broken."

But Jeff Butcher, a sophomore from Springfield, Mo., said he liked mixing modern architecture with old-time designs.

"I think it's cool," he said. "It's not like a church or anything. A lot of people get carried away. They need to remember that it's only basketball. It's not like the fieldhouse is sacred or holy or anything. Everything changes."

-- KU student Gary Meenaghan contributed information to this report.

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