Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Kansas Relays ending run at Memorial Stadium … or is it?


Kansas University track legend Wes Santee said Tuesday that next spring's Kansas Relays will be the last held at Memorial Stadium, but the athletic department said Santee prematurely was kicking to the finish line this time.

"We've had a briefing," Santee said. "They're going to take the track out of Memorial Stadium, period. (Track) will have its own facility southwest of Allen Fieldhouse. ... This will be the last year in the football stadium. I know they're planning to do some special things to make it an event, and probably they'll invite everybody back."

The proposed location for a new track and for a soccer game field is at the old football practice fields, but as of now, not enough funds have been raised to shift the project into the definite stage, according to an athletic department spokesman.

"There is a master plan that involves that, but to say it is 100 percent certain right now as we sit here and talk is jumping the gun, to use a track term," associate athletic director Jim Marchiony said.

Will the track be relocated in time for the 2010 Kansas Relays?

"It could be, but that's going to depend on fundraising," Marchiony said.

The goal is to build a track facility with 5,000 seats that could expand to 10,000 with temporary seating.

The "master plan" includes a resurfacing of the football field, at which time the track would be removed. The lanes on the new track would be six inches wider, in accordance with updated recommended lane widths. Widening the lanes at Memorial Stadium would require removing rows of seats for football games, which will not happen.

Asked how he felt about the proposed move, Santee said, "I love Memorial Stadium. But let's be honest, the current athletic administration does everything first class. So if they put a first-class track down there, with locker rooms and all that stuff to go with it, fix it up first class so the people could see all the events, it could be good."

Santee, 76 and a resident of El Dorado, sounded more concerned about the substance of the Kansas Relays than the location.

"I would hope we would go back to making sure we get a lot of colleges here," he said. "Texas, Oklahoma, Michigan, Michigan State, Missouri. We have all these Big 12 and surrounding schools. They ought to be able to put on a show, so let's do it."

Santee pointed to what he called a perfect model for the Kansas Relays.

"The Drake Relays is still a major track meet," Santee said. "One of the big differences at Drake is Des Moines, Ia., gets big-time involved. They have a queen and a parade and all the businesses downtown really turn their attention to it. That hasn't happened here since the '50s. We had some floats and parades at that time for the Relays. That became a major promotion for the townspeople. If they do it well and KU does it well then we sell hotel rooms and food and it's good for the town."


12 years, 2 months ago

KU - I like the sound of those numbers, and I hope the plan in kunomu's understanding is only temporary. It would make no sense to remove the track and do nothing else.

741hawk 12 years, 2 months ago

Taking out the track and not lowering the field (to put the stands closer to the field) would be RIDICULOUS. I've been a proponent since 1985. Dolph Simons and I talked about it. He wrote me a three-page letter many months later explaining that a an engineering study had been done showing that it was structurally feasible and recommending an additional 7 rows of seats. When I visited witht he Chancellor at the Orange Bowl, he knew of the engineering study! He said to me, "So you think we should have a big-time football facility?" Duh!Taking the track out and not lowering the field accomplishes nothing. The fans will still be TOO FAR AWAY to impact the game.

KU 12 years, 2 months ago

txrockchalk.......If they did dig the field lower and were able to add 12 rows of seats all around the horseshoe, I would think they could add about 11,000 to the seating capacity without incurring the higher cost of building upward.Here's my math:120 yards per side (and estimating 70 yards around the U)= 310 yards3 seats per yard = 930 new seats per row930 seats times 12 rows = 11,160

greatabu 12 years, 2 months ago

The drainage issue underneath the stadium will limit how far down you can go. Using the 1.5 feet row depth, to add 11 rows and a 6 foot retaining wall you would have to lower the field 22.5 feet. Keep in mind this is just the surface layer; you have to dig even deeper to allow for the drainage of the field (I'm guessing that this is at least 3 feet; anyone with better info, help would be appreciated). This would be like adding 3 basements to the stadium. Doing this with 7 rows and a wall is still 16.5 feet. You also need to leave space on the sidelines for TV equipment to move about. The track is approximately 32 feet wide. Assuming that each row is about 2 feet wide and allowing about a foot for a barrier at the front, 11 rows is 23 feet, allowing for 9 feet of space; probably too tight for a TV truck. 7 rows gives 15 feet, leaving 17 feet of space; I think that would be sufficient.Something to consider is that you are only limited by a retaining wall on the sidelines. You could build all the way down to the field in the endzones. You could also put seating on the southside, even going above ground level a bit so long as you don't block the view of the hill too much. Let's use KU's figures and say 3 rows on the sidelines with a 6 foot wall, 7 rows on the north endzone, and 11 rows on the south endzone (about 9-10 feet above ground level) with a 2-3 feet high wall at the top. This adds almost 6,000 seats to Memorial. I agree that it's about time that the administration is at least considering this. This is going to have to happen in steps. First, remove the track. Then we have to demonstrate that we can sell-out on a regular basis; during this time we should start hitting up donors, so that we can start as soon as possible once we show that we can put butts in the seats if we add them. Then, drop the field and build the seats. This might have to be split over a couple of seasons; drop the field one year and add the seats the next. This would depend on construction times and working around graduation and football needs.

12 years, 2 months ago

greatabu - nice analysis. I still hope they can squeeze in a couple more rows than you are estimating on the sides if they do in fact lower the field!Eurekahwk - we would have to do something different with the video/score board in order to put a large grandstand in the south end. Also, don't forget about the new Touchdown Club seating in that area. The Hill tradition was effectively killed around 1993 when they quit allowing alcohol and left the metal bleachers up that blocked most of the view.

12 years, 2 months ago

Why would we be limited to lowering the field 12 feet? You would want to lower it as much as necessary so the additional rows of seating would move inward enough to reach the area between the sidelines and the stands. They would have to first determine how many feet they would want the depth of that area to be, then determine how many rows of seating it would take (at the current size of rows) to reach down and out to meet that dimension. It sounds like the study 741hawk is alluding to probably has a good grasp of how many rows that would be. I agree that you would want to have a six foot tall retaining wall around the field to make the first few rows useful. I just think it is cool that the administration and people are seriously talking about this now!

killabees 12 years, 2 months ago

Sorry to hear the relays being moved, but I gotta admit that removing the track will make Memorial Stadium a much better football venue. Hopefully this helps track as well, since they'll be closer to their training and indoor track area.I wonder if they'll eventually add seats where the track used to be.

FlaHawk 12 years, 2 months ago

The days of the Texaas-Kansas-Drake Relay circuit is lon ggone. This was 50s and 60s fodder, when KU had great track teams.Almost all major colleges and universities have 5-10K Track facilities. They are not set up for major college events like KU Relays. KU is about 10 years behind the times in this aspect.Des Moines goes nuts for the Drake Relays. The whole town supports it. Lawrence has been into track sice the early 60s during the Bill Easton era! Again, this era is long gone in Lawrence.I can not believe they would not drop the field and add additional premium seats. They would be foolish not to do this at some point. Why not when they resurface field and tear out track? Maybe too much money too soon?

swjhawk 12 years, 2 months ago

As a track team member (for a very short time) I remember the meets of the late 50's and 60's. Why can't we return to those days? I'm saddened by the decline and can't understand why we dismiss track so easily from a school with such tradition in the sport. To move it from the stadium is the final dagger in the heart.

kunomu 12 years, 2 months ago

from what I understand they will remove the track but not lower the field.

Rick Arnoldy 12 years, 2 months ago

If they drop the field (and I hope they do) I think they'll have to re-do the press boxes as well. Since I'm out of state I listen to the opposing team's radio broadcasts when I can. The distance from the field is a common complaint.

KUGreenMachine 12 years, 2 months ago

Need fundraising? Didn't they just stumble upon an extra few thousand dollars these last couple days in just t-shirt money? Wonder where that money's going...

greatabu 12 years, 2 months ago

I don't think that you could really add more than about 4 rows of seating if you dropped the field 12 feet. Assuming that each row is approximately 1.5 feet deep you can add at most 8 rows of seat. However, the bottom 4 rows will run into the same problem that we currently have in that the view of the field is blocked by the bench area. To solve that problem you could build a retaining wall around the field that was about 6 feet tall. This would allow you to add at most 4 (more likely 3) rows of seat around the field. I bet that if they do lower the field, they will only go down about 6-8 feet and not add any seating at all.I doubt that they lower the field very soon due to costs. Don't forget that they will have to redo the drainage around the stadium if they drop the field. It's feasible, but costly. Let's start with getting the track out and selling out the stadium on a regular basis. Then we can start thinking about lowering the field and adding seats.

HawkFanEddie 12 years, 2 months ago

The Kansas Relays are great. I am proud that we have them. But lets not kid ourselves. Nobody cares about them. Nobody cares about track anf field. College football is what matters. I support anything that helps Mangino and KU football. We are finally making a lot of progress in catching up with the rest of the BCS schools in facilities. The track around the football field has got to go. We can build a really nice track where the old football practice fields are located. They can have the Kansas Relays there.

12 years, 2 months ago

This would be great news for both sports if it comes to fruition.killabees - there is a poster (whose handle escapes me) that has been pushing for this for a while, and is aware of a study done that indicates once the track is removed at Memorial Stadium, and they are able to dig down and lower the field, they will be able to add something like 12 rows of seating. This will effectively not only add more fans, but will place them much closer to the field, and significantly increase the noise level when the opposing team is on offense.

Eurekahwk 12 years, 2 months ago

If you want more seats, there is plenty of real estate on the south end for a generously sized grand stand. Screw "blocking the hill" crybabies. If you are going to kill one proud tradition like the Relays, why stop there.

Eurekahwk 12 years, 2 months ago

Okay then, so lets build a huge new stand that comes right up to the back of the endzone and allows fans to really yell at the red zone. The new Touchdown Club is a bunch of cheap looking bleachers with recliners. Build real suites into that structure. We can get like 10-15 K more seats. The money made off those seats would just blow away the profits of this new outdoor luxury gimmick. As far as the video board goes, we can mount a bigger better one above the new south endzone seating. Dropping the field for more rows is still very doable to go along with closing in the south side.But I think the tradition people are really concerned about is the walk down the hill in May. One day out of the entire year.

yovoy 12 years, 2 months ago

after 1 monster season of fb at ku:cart, meet horse.then lead him around.

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