Tuesday, August 18, 2009

To meet fan, alumni expectations, KU Athletics commits to fieldhouse matters



Gould Evans Associates/Special to the Journal-World

A rendering shows some of the renovations planned for Kansas University’s Allen Fieldhouse, as designed by Gould Evans Associates.


Gould Evans Associates/Special to the Journal-World

A rendering shows some of the renovations planned for Kansas University’s Allen Fieldhouse, as designed by Gould Evans Associates.

Sure, brothers C.J. and Xavier Henry will play for their parents’ alma mater this fall, more than two decades after mom and dad each suited up for the Jayhawks.

The incoming basketball brothers also will be among the thousands of crimson-and-blue players, staffers, fans and others who will be stepping into the next generation of Allen Fieldhouse: a basketball building long revered for its history but one quickly becoming home to the latest in technology, comfort and competition.

“We think it’s important to do everything we can to keep our basketball programs at the level that KU fans expect them to be,” said Jim Marchiony, an associate athletics director. “These improvements are necessary to do that.”

The improvements — including new bathroom fixtures, reorganized concessions stands, expanded locker rooms and a sprawling alumni lounge — are part of $42 million wave of donor-financed construction sweeping through the fieldhouse and its adjacent buildings.

Long gone are the days of the building’s lower-level concourse doubling as a track, or its public bathrooms looking like something normally reserved for a county fair.

Today’s fieldhouse, now 54 years old, is retaining its old-school charms, such as the original Longines clock on the west wall, while building on recent upgrades that included a new video scoreboard, an upgraded sound system, the Booth Family Hall of Athletics and more.

The Lawrence office of Gould Evans Associates designed the improvements. John Wilkins, principal in charge for the project, received his architecture degree in 1986 from KU, having faithfully followed fellow students Cedric Hunter, Mark Turgeon, Ron Kellogg, Calvin Thompson, Danny Manning and others on their run to the Final Four.

Wilkins is embracing the chance to improve the fieldhouse experience for fans like himself and thousands of others.

“It’s a little bit humbling, because it’s such an iconic building,” he said.

The latest renovations and expansions, scheduled to be finished by the time the 2009-10 season tips off in October, include upgrades for both the teams that play at the fieldhouse and the fans who gather there.

For the fans

The fieldhouse still holds 16,300 spectators for home games, but their experience will expand for the coming season and beyond.

Upgrades for some fans will start even before they even step inside.

Among the upgrades:

• A new double-deck bridge is being built between the fieldhouse and the parking garage to the north, which is used by qualifying members of the Williams Educational Fund on gamedays. The bridge will connect the fieldhouse with the second and third levels of the garage to help people get in and out of the fieldhouse warmer, faster “and drier,” Marchiony said.

• Inside the fieldhouse, the first-level concourse is being widened to help ease congestion before, during and after games. Nine first-level stairwells are being removed to improve circulation and flow, Wilkins said, while three “large stair towers” are being added at the outside edges of the fieldhouse to keep fans moving while freeing up space for teams and their support needs. “It’s going to be a learning curve,” Wilkins said. “It’s going to be more open, with easier circulation to get around, but certainly finding the stairs to your seats will take while for everyone to get used to.”

• Restrooms for men and women will be upgraded, making them even more “up-to-date” than accomplished through previous renovations, Marchiony said. Wilkins said that original, 1950s-era fixtures would be replaced.

• Concessions stands will be rebuilt to be bigger, and designed to make operations more efficient for workers and more convenient for fans. “It’s all with customer service in mind,” Marchiony said. “That was a very, very necessary improvement.” A central area for storage, with walk-in coolers, is only part of the work that will enable more menu options to be made available, Wilkins said: “The whole thing Kansas Athletics is trying to do is upgrade the whole concessions experience: better food, better service.”

• The Booth Family Hall of Athletics is being expanded and will include new, interactive elements. The hall’s usable space will be doubled, Wilkins said. Marchiony noted that the fieldhouse’s west hallway — the one that leads to the men’s and women’s locker rooms — will be remodeled to include a “historical element” featuring historical photos from each decade of KU basketball.

Also under way: Construction of a new Donor Atrium, to be connected to the second floor of the fieldhouse and considered a “hospitality area” for qualifying members of the Williams Fund before, during and after games, Marchiony said.

Although details are still being worked out, he said, the atrium will include lounges and provide food and refreshments.

“It will run the length of Allen Fieldhouse on the west side, connecting Parrot (Athletic Center) and the fieldhouse,” he said. “It will be huge.”

The atrium will have room for more than 200 people, Wilkins said, and include a bar, lounge seating, stand-up tables, televisions and other features.

“Certainly, trying to come up with different venues that appeal to different fans and donors makes total sense,” Wilkins said. “It gives them some choices and some variety in what they can do.”

The Naismith Room, which has welcomed donors in recent years on the east side of the fieldhouse’s second level, will remain in place, Marchiony said. Its use for the coming season has not been determined.

The overall goal for such upgrades is to give people attending games the best possible fieldhouse experience.

“Fans who support a program, like Kansas fans support a program, deserve to be treated in this manner,” Marchiony said. “The fans are going to love what they see in October.”

For the teams

Don’t expect players, coaches and their support staffs to be left out of the project.

Both the men’s and women’s basketball programs are taking a step up in the facilities arena, as their locker rooms get expanded, film rooms are added, a new practice center is built next door and coaches and others prepare to move into renovated offices.

The new-and-improved digs are designed to better serve Jayhawks on the court, both now and into the future.

“It’s still the best place in the country to watch a basketball game,” Marchiony said. “What we’re doing, and what we did a couple years ago with renovations inside the bowl, is to make sure that it remains the best facility in the country, and to keep the facility at the level where young men and women want to come play here.”

Jayhawks won’t be the only ones reaping benefits from the project. Even locker rooms for visiting teams and game officials are getting a makeover.

And other KU sports are sharing in the bounty.

With the football program moved into the Anderson Family Football Complex near Memorial Stadium last year, other programs were given a chance to expand into the open space. Offices for coaches in what are known as Olympic sports — such as softball, volleyball, swimming, tennis and soccer — are receiving some renovations, Marchiony said.

A new academic center runs the length of the north side of the nearby Anschutz Sports Pavilion. Academic staff members moved in June 1.

“It is probably the finest academic center in the country right now,” Marchiony said.

A new practice facility — to be named in honor of the Forrest Hoglund family, a major donor to the project — is being built adjacent to the fieldhouse, and already features a prominent display: the Final Four logo cut from center court at the Alamodome in San Antonio, where the Jayhawks won the 2008 men’s national championship.

The square hunk of floor is mounted on the wall, dwarfing a smaller scoreboard a few feet away and lending a piece of recent history to a building that has yet to make any.

But Bill Self and the rest of the Jayhawks are looking forward to the fieldhouse and related upgrades being in place, forming yet another solid foundation from which to build strong teams for the future.

In short, the tradition continues.

“We’re excited about everything going on at our university,” Self said last year, of the planned upgrades and others under way.


KEITHMILES05 10 years, 5 months ago

The "donor lounge" will only serve the uppity high dollar roller. Enough of this nonsense it will be for the vast, vast, vast majority of fans.

Paul Meyer 10 years, 5 months ago

Hopefully, visitors will still have to "Pay Heed to the Phog."

phogthedog 10 years, 5 months ago

Would these "uppity high dollar rollers" be the ones who arrive late and leave early? Let's make sure that we make it more convenient for the wine & cheese group.

OmahaJHawk 10 years, 5 months ago

While I can understand the frustration with "the uppity high dollar roller" who may "arrive late and leave early", but without them, our athletic programs would not be where they are today. It takes a LOT of money for KU to compete in athletics and that money comes from donors. Call it a necessary evil. Yeah sure it would be great if all the loyal fans could have the great seats but you'd be watching teams that lost a lot of games.

Brad Avery 10 years, 5 months ago

Is the top picture a new practice court?

mattvely 10 years, 5 months ago

phogthedog...are you a hater of high rollers? do you understand bigtime basketball? do you like winning? do you like allen field house & the improvements to it? do you like Bill Self and the contract he has? do you like the new football program? do you disagree high roller dollars should have a % of THEIR money going to high roller extras as long as it betters the program? do you have any dollars to donate? do you like america? Dog, do you know the top 1% ("uppity high rollers" included in that grouping) pays over 40% of personal income tax in america? Silly dog, don't bite your master.

trader 10 years, 5 months ago

"High Rollers" support the university. As a group, they are great individuals and are loyal to their school. What more could one ask for.

Matt Kenton 10 years, 5 months ago

Maybe the new bridges to the parking garage will help get them in and out faster, so they can be on time and stay a little later.

Or maybe they'll get to the game even later because they stop off for a cocktail in the donor lounge...

Joel Hood 10 years, 5 months ago

I miss the rusted-out, “horse-trough” urinals where the water never stopped flowing. ; )

Displayhawk 10 years, 5 months ago

A top view of the Fieldhouse with all the changes would have been nice to see.

Waylon Cook 10 years, 5 months ago

Without people who worked hard and made their self "High Rollers" this country wouldn't have such things as college athletics(does any country have Universities with facilities etc like the USA?). Also "High Rollers" put back into the education not just the athletic side of things. This is just one of the many things that "High Rollers" do(Pro athletes with big contracts usually have a charity or benefit dinners that are 10000 a plate-just to name a couple) Not to mention the "High Rollers" have always paid the most in taxes(fair tax anyone?) Maybe Lew shouldn't have asked anyone for donations-maybe got the stimulus money instead..............

Waylon Cook 10 years, 5 months ago

o and forgot something-the DONOR LOUNGE ISN'T NEW ITS BEING RELOCATED!

Brian Skelly 10 years, 5 months ago

The "high rollers" are the reason all these renovations take place to begin with.

This makes KU different than... well... no other D-I school.

In reality KU has been well behind the curve with this stuff.

They are just now catching up.

KGphoto 10 years, 5 months ago

I was a high roller once. You could find me on the track right outside the court wiling away the hours until tip-off. I still feel the ghost of that track.

"Mama needs a new pair of shoes."


I did, occasionally, play the Ashy Larry of my AFH craps corner. I had a nag and everything. But, ooohhh when I was hot, I was on fire! They called me Easy for my propensity to throw the six and eight. I once threw seven straight easy-eights and walked with the house after being down to a dime.

I was kind of a big deal. Surprised you didn't know that.

KUFan90 10 years, 5 months ago

Great article...excellent detail. These are exciting changes that will be great for the program, players, fans, "high rollers", and even the other sports programs.

Christopher Hauser 10 years, 5 months ago

If you go to and click on pictures they have update photos of how the construction is comming along. They also have great pics of the boat house down on the Kaw

Scott Perlmutter 10 years, 5 months ago

The only good thing about the first renovations was the lighting and the video board. I hate these new renovations and it kills me just staring at the major eye sore that the bridge to the parking garage is. If you are going to cut into the fieldhouse, at least make the bridge look like it belongs, not rustic in color. It is terrible and everyone I have spoken to hates it too. All real fans will hate this. Stop ruining Allen Fieldhouse!

Waylon Cook 10 years, 5 months ago

Hey Mutt(good name for you too)-I guess that when the first set of renovations was done and we replaced the flooring that actually had caused players back problems that wasn't a good thing? I have heard noone who hates it-but I guess the "High Rollers" I associate myself with have vision and can't judge something that isn't finished! Ruining the Fieldhouse by improvements that are needed and will generate revenue? Wow I'll take it!(call YOUR President and let him know he should try programs that generate and not cost tax payers money)


KGphoto 10 years, 5 months ago

oneU: You write like you made your "high roller" dough on a street corner.

Warning: Reading oneU's posts may cause seizures!

For christ's sake, take a class or lose the tude.

Hawktacular 10 years, 5 months ago

It is amazing what one shot ("THE SHOT") has led to. Mario is and will always be the man.

Waylon Cook 10 years, 5 months ago


Marcia Parsons 10 years, 5 months ago

mutt: I'd guess that in the final stages the bridge will be painted. The metal comes with that rust-colored protective coating. They will probably paint it to match the facade of the building.

Ben Kliewer 10 years, 5 months ago

People who are ragging on the improvements are essentially change fearers who think the earth is flat. The world changes and things improve, get over it. What are my credentials? I am a REAL fan. These improvements are taking our program to the next level, and are keeping up with the precedent that Kansas has set. You're talking about this as if it is ruining our basketball program. But what you don't seem to understand is that this is the result of our success. The better you do, the better facilities you are able to afford and install, the better talent you attract, the better your program becomes, or, in this case, remains. If you want to just live in sports past, go to Manhattan and root for Coach Snyder. Trying to regain past glory by going back to the olden days seems to be what they're good at. But if you want Allen Fieldhouse to keep up with the success of the program it houses, these awesome improvements are what's going to do that. But perhaps you have a point, Allen-Fieldhouse-improvement-haters. Maybe we should all still wear long socks and short shorts. They could pull out the Chuck Taylor All Stars and play in those too. Hang up some peach baskets while you're at it! I'm tired of this air conditioning in Allen Fieldhouse, let's take it out! How about we play with a 12 pound ball that barely bounces? Makin' free throws granny style! Get rid of the three point line! Improvements suck! I live in a giant bucket! I believe it is the REAL fans who are making it possible for this to happen. And REAL fans who like to continue improving our program. REAL fans will and do love the renovations and improvements! Allen will always be Allen! Add a bridge, add a bar, add a monorail for all I care! If it's making Allen an even better place to play and watch basketball, well then, that's the point! Maybe we should just play in the auditorium again, eh?

actorman 10 years, 5 months ago

Since onlyone seems to feel the need to espouse his ridiculous conservative talking points, I guess it would be unwise to point out that the gap between rich and poor has grown exponentially over the last 30 years.

KGphoto 10 years, 5 months ago

Thank you actorman. And not only that, as the high rollers have been making America so great, our world education ranking has dropped like a stone. As oneU proves every time he/she posts.

Ben Kliewer 10 years, 5 months ago

KG, are you Kenny Gregory? Anyway, I'm having some trouble understanding you. Your posts seem disconnected and very stream of conscious, barely flirting with the topic at hand. Conversely, onlyoneU's posts appeared to make complete sense, are topical, and relevant. onlyone's posts may cause seizures...Kenny Gregory's posts do cause them.

Waylon Cook 10 years, 5 months ago

You nailed it Kleave both your posts. It does amaze me how much Lew has got us back in the game in such a short time. WIth the success thats on the horizon for this year its only getting better!

KGphoto 10 years, 5 months ago

Young and ignorant, you are. But understand, one day you will. Yes, hmmm.

Other than that. You got a problem with Kenny Gregory?

KEITHMILES05 10 years, 5 months ago

I always loved Kenny G. I'd do him any time. He's a gorgeous man.

Ben Kliewer 10 years, 5 months ago

KG, you are neither aware of how young or old I am, nor successful in your Star Wars references. There's nothing here to understand, because you haven't projected a coherent or relevant thought throughout this thread. Aside from that, Kenny Gregory disappeared because his vertical leap became so great (greater even than his 44 inch vertical whilst at KU), that he accidentally jumped into orbit while attempting to dunk over Eric Chenowith in an NBDL game.

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