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Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Burcham Boats? KU eyes state-owned park for rowing home

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The Kansas University student body passed referendum No. 2 last week, meaning a boathouse will be built for the KU rowing team in the future.

How near the future is, though, is a long way from being known.

With relative ease, KU students approved increasing student funds to build a boathouse and help out other non-revenue sports. KU athletic director Lew Perkins applauded the student body's decision to support the referendum at Tuesday's Kansas Athletics, Inc., board meeting, but neither he nor other athletic directors present had many other answers regarding the future of the boathouse.

What is known is that KU is eyeing Burcham Park - where the rowing team currently is headquartered - to build the boathouse. It isn't as simple as the football facility, which had a timeline in place soon after securing funds earlier this year. Since Burcham is owned by the state, the athletics department will have to jump through additional hoops to secure permission to build on the property.

No groundbreaking date is set, and no date of completion is targeted yet, said associate athletic director Sean Lester.

Perkins said he expects the athletic department to receive between $2 and $3 million from the student body toward construction. Early estimates are that the boathouse will cost between $4 and $5 million, and the athletic department will pick up the remaining costs.

Other developments from Tuesday's board meeting:

¢ Perkins plans to hire a full-time sports psychologist to work with student-athletes. Mainly, the psychologist will be around to assist athletes on issues like eating disorders and drugs and alcohol.

¢ The budget, both income and expenses, remains around what was projected last summer. One expense that ended up larger than budgeted was for men's basketball, due to travel costs to Hawaii, New York and other road trips.

¢ Members voted to remove the restriction on a ticket surcharge that allows Kansas Athletics to no longer track the surcharge revenue apart from normal ticket revenues.

The board voted in 1997 to add a $6 surcharge on football tickets and $5 surcharge on basketball tickets toward paying off bonds for improvements to Memorial Stadium and Allen Fieldhouse. But since the corporation pledged the entire revenue stream to the repayment of bonds instead of just the surcharge stream, splitting up the revenues was nothing more than an unneeded accounting step.

KU still has 15 years to pay off the bonds, but Perkins speculated that the surcharge would stay on the ticket prices for future projects.

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