Lew Perkins, who has spoken to, and received e-mails from, countless die-hard Kansas University sports fans in his five years as athletic director, says Jayhawk nation is in total agreement on one topic: the future of 52-year-old Allen Fieldhouse.
"Nobody has ever said to me, 'Lew, we need to get a new building,'" Perkins said during an interview in KU's tradition-rich hoops palace - site of 599 KU men's basketball victories and 106 defeats entering today's 7 p.m. nonconference clash against Northern Arizona."The people I run into are unanimous. They love this building."
As does Perkins, who says there are no plans on the table - or in the back recesses of his mind - to build a shiny, new, multi-million-dollar fieldhouse as KU nears victory No. 600.
"There will be no new fieldhouse while I'm here. I've done a lot of dumb things in my life. That is not one," Perkins said with a smile. "We would lose so much. What we are doing is improving what we have. We have one of the great facilities in the world. We have to keep improving it, making it better - continuing to improve the lighting, bathrooms, concessions, concourses.
"We don't want to ever lose the mystique, the history, the presentation, but we need to update. I look at this as a beautiful, beautiful, beautiful old antique house, but you've got to upgrade the plumbing. You've got to upgrade the electricity and other things."
Perkins already has been part of some significant improvements to the fieldhouse, including the addition of the Booth Family Hall of Athletics as well as new videoboard, lighting, sound system and roof.
On tap for the coming offseason is a $15 million project that will tackle improving the concourses, rest rooms, men's and women's locker rooms as well as mechanical and electrical improvements and added space for fire and medical staffs.
Skyboxes are not part of the fieldhouse's future.
"I don't think it would be appropriate for basketball. I am not a big skybox guy for basketball," Perkins said. "I think you lose a lot."
Perkins is a fan of arenas with character.
He played college basketball at Iowa Fieldhouse, home of the Hawkeyes from 1927 until 1983, when Carver-Hawkeye Arena was built.
"It seated 13,000 people. There were pillars, no chairbacks," Perkins said. "It was the type of arena college basketball was supposed to be played in.
"I spent three or four years in Philadelphia at the Palestra. I've been around some of the great buildings. I rank this No. 1 not because I'm the AD here. To come and watch a game here ... there's no better place."
He had never seen a game at Allen until after he became AD.
"The first time I walked into Allen Fieldhouse, I said to myself, 'What is everybody making a fuss about?''' Perkins said. "After seeing my first game here, there was no question how awesome this place was. To me, the history, the tradition, how close the fans are to the court ... more important than anything else is how knowledgeable the fans are. As good as the building is ... the fans make it better because they are so knowledgeable."
They also are loud at times, and one can envision a loud roar if 3-0 KU can wrap up win No. 600 against 3-1 Northern Arizona tonight.
"One of the great things of having this great facility is we keep winning here," Perkins said. "It's so intimidating to come in and play. I watch a lot of the visiting teams especially if they have not been in here before. I watch warmups. They keep looking around. Their eyes are big.
"We have coaches that call us. They say, 'Can we play a game there?' They want to coach in this facility, which tells you a lot about the facility."
The fieldhouse won't be changed, but KU before too long may have a new practice facility. Perkins said Horejsi Center did not meet all the KU hoops team's needs.
"Just because that facility was built as a volleyball facility. We need to have a basketball facility," Perkins said. "Right now there are no specifics. It is on our drawing board. We have to look at that. That is on our list ... it is a priority we have to continue to look at."