Sports facility upgrades expanded

$55M to be spent on Allen Fieldhouse, other buildings

Thursday, May 8, 2008

With upgrades to the Kansas University football team's facilities nearly complete, attention this summer will return to Allen Fieldhouse and the area around it for $55 million in upgrades, expansions and additions.

The upgrades will be funded in the near term through state bonds, which will be paid back by donations to and revenues from the athletics department, according to documents supplied to the Kansas Board of Regents in advance of its meeting next week. The $55 million plan will supplant a previous plan for $15 million in renovations to Allen Fieldhouse alone.

"In order to attract the best players and make the best fan experience, we need to get started on this plan as soon as possible," associate athletic director Jim Marchiony said.

This is the $55 million will pay for, according to the documents supplied to the regents:

¢ At Allen Fieldhouse, the locker rooms, restrooms, concourses and concession areas will be remodeled. Other mechanical and electrical improvements will also be made. While those improvements were previously known, new to the plan are a connection between the fieldhouse and Wagnon Student Athlete Center and a two-level bridge to the parking garage. The connection to Wagnon will allow for improvements to fire exits in the upper levels of the fieldhouse.

¢ The Horesji Family Athletic Center will undergo some of the most dramatic renovations, including increasing the capacity of the volleyball facility from about 1,300 people to "at least 2,000 people," Marchiony said. The new men's and women's basketball facility will be built as part of Horesji as well, between the existing structure and Wagnon.

¢ Wagnon Student Athlete Center/Parrott Athletic Center, which is between the fieldhouse and the large Anschutz Sports Pavilion, will receive upgrades to locker rooms and offices that had been used by the football team. The renovations will upgrade the space available for sports including softball, soccer and track. Additionally, a second floor may be added to a one-story portion of Anschutz, which would be used for student study and offices.

Donors in recent days have received solicitations to take part in KU's new "Building on Excellence" campaign. Donations to this campaign would likely go to support some of these projects.

Marchiony said these upgrades were necessary for the facilities to stay competitive and maintain their usefulness.

"We feel Allen Fieldhouse is one of, if not the, best college basketball venues in the country. We want to keep it that way," Marchiony said. "In order to attract top-flight players in every sport, we need to make these changes."

So far, plans for the project aren't completed, Marchiony said, though the athletics department has commissioned Arnold Imaging of Kansas City, Mo., to create a video of at least some of the renovations.

No figure was available Wednesday night for how much of the total $55 million had been secured from donors. According to what was provided to the regents, however, "athletics has several pledges and continues to raise funds for this project - no state funds will be spent on this project."