Saturday, June 20, 2009

Extreme makeover: Stadium edition

New turf going in at KU’s Memorial Stadium

Workers for Mid America Golf and Landscape of Lee's Summit, Mo, level the field at Memorial Stadium on Monday, replacing artificial turf that was installed in 2000.

Workers for Mid America Golf and Landscape of Lee's Summit, Mo, level the field at Memorial Stadium on Monday, replacing artificial turf that was installed in 2000.


While the term “face-lift” might be a bit much in describing the upgrades currently being carried out within the confines of Kansas University’s Memorial Stadium, it would be no stretch to liken the improvements to an afternoon BOTOX session.

Kivisto Field, on which the KU football team plays its home games, is undergoing an $800,000 to $900,000 resurfacing project that will provide the Jayhawks with a state-of-the art playing surface for the 2009 season.

In replacing the AstroTurf surface that spent the past nine seasons as the program’s turf of choice, Kansas will implement a FieldTurf product called Duraspine, a playing surface some form of which is currently being used by 36 Div. I football teams nationwide, including Nebraska, Missouri and Wisconsin.

“Basically, for this game field, we looked at AstroTurf and FieldTurf,” KU associate athletic director-operations Bill Dickerson said. “… We reviewed with our coaching staff and other administrators, and they liked the FieldTurf. They were the industry leader at the time, they had the most fields in the country, college and pro, so that’s what we decided to go with.”

The perks of the surface, Dickerson says, are numerous. For one thing, it provides a nearly perfectly level playing field. Kansas’ previous field had a concrete crown that gave the field a 12- to 18-inch incline at midfield in order to accommodate the drainage system.

Not so with the FieldTurf, a combination of synthetic grass, silica sand and cryogenic rubber that, despite gaining some notoriety recently after two American cities banned the use of “crumb rubber,” has become a popular option for football programs across the country.

It will also consist of the same material used in the team’s practice fields, a sticking point for the program’s coaches and administrators who sought consistency in playing surfaces.

“The coaches are thrilled with it,” Dickerson said. “They’re happy they have the same turf system that they have on the practice field, and anytime you get a new surface, things are going to be a little better.”

In addition to the field upgrade, meanwhile, KU officials have discussed the possibility of replacing the stadium’s current scoreboard as early as this summer. According to documents Kansas University provided to the school’s board of regents for their June meeting, the plan would include “removing the existing, (10-year-old) scoreboard, providing supports for the new scoreboard configuration, installing new enclosure and new wiring to the camera and video board control system.”

The project, if undertaken, is expected to cost roughly $2,100,000 and would be paid for with Kansas Athletics funds.

The KU athletic department was quick to note that the implementation of a new scoreboard isn’t a foregone conclusion. Yet.

“Nothing has been decided yet,” associate athletic director Jim Marchiony said. “(But) we should know within the next three weeks.”


Kyle Rohde 10 years, 11 months ago

'Bout time we got a new scoreboard. I wish it'd be on top of the closed end of the field though, instead of making the hill even more blocked than it already is.

Frankenhawk 10 years, 11 months ago

I just now made this profile (I usually just peruse these boards with great amusement) for the sole purpose of saying....please, please, PLEASE!!! Make the Jayhawk in the middle of the field AT LEAST three times bigger than the last one. Its crazy to me that we jumped on the giant basketball court logo bandwagon (which I love alot btw...could even be bigger really, lol), but we stayed with that wimpy little Jayhawk on our football field which, at least the last time i checked, was a great deal larger than a basketball court. That is all.

Dirk Medema 10 years, 11 months ago

The scoreboard on the N end of the stadium would be nice, but a LOT more expensive. There would be at least twice as much structure involved; the distance from the ground to the rim of the stadium. Maybe that will be part of the stadium expansion in a few years when the traditions of filling the stadium for all of the home games continues past the Reesing/Meier/Sharp/Stuckey era.

sevenyearhawk 10 years, 11 months ago

This headline made me chuckle ... nice!

Going to be a great year, I remember what a big deal it was at Nebraska when they first installed this turf.

Yes, please ... get a bigger Jayhawk.

I have no hard evidence (and I really tried to track it down) but if I had to guess, the Jayhawk in AFH had at least ten feet on its Memorial Stadium sibling!

KUFan90 10 years, 11 months ago

We can't have an article like this one without at least one "remove the track" comment.

So...remove the track!

Kevin Long 10 years, 11 months ago

I would like a board on the other end as well. As far as the Jayhawk goes...either go bigger or not at all and put the old K out there.

741hawk 10 years, 11 months ago

Thanks KUFan90. I cannot believe Lou is doing all this and not takling out the track. Perfect time to add 7,000 seats and get us fans close to the action like all but two other BCS football schools!

Kyle Helmer 10 years, 11 months ago


I sent Lew Perkins an e-mail regarding the "look" of the field last week. I mentioned that the Jayhawk was too small and faded and the endzones looked outdated with the old style lettering. I suggested increasing the size of the Jayhawk and making the endzones similiar to the way they looked in the Orange Bowl and Insight Bowl with the Trajan font. Lew's assistant e-mailed me back the next day and said they are working on a new design for the field and she thinks I will be happy with the results.

We shall see!

MitchumMan 10 years, 11 months ago

The track - It would be nice to not have it for football games, but I don't see the school getting rid of it. Maybe if we can keep up our level of playing after the Reesing era...but I still doubt they do it.

Bigger Jayhawk - I love this idea! I don't want it proportional to the one in AFH, but it still needs to be bigger.

Scoreboard - I love what this program is considering. Just make sure that those speakers will blow you backwards when our intro begins. Man I love that intro! - Rock Chalk!!!

Brian Skelly 10 years, 11 months ago

Arent they building a new track / softball / tennis / practice complex back by the old practice football fields? I wasnt sure when it was supposed to be started (or completed), but I'd imagine they'd nuke the track at Memorial Stadium once that occurs.

Cody Stumma 10 years, 11 months ago

"Thanks KUFan90. I cannot believe Lou is doing all this and not takling out the track. Perfect time to add 7,000 seats and get us fans close to the action like all but two other BCS football schools!"

Can't remove the track if the Olympic Village isn't built yet...

jayhawkr34 10 years, 11 months ago

Is it just me or do we need a new stadium already, seems like every other year theyre putting millions into this stadium, dont get me wrong, we love the atmosphere, but a new stadium with all the other new facilities would draw even more people, and needless to say even better athletes.

Hawkman_021 10 years, 11 months ago


We dont need a new stadium, I love the fact we have the first stadiums on campus west of the Mississippi river, there is so much more with the stadium that makes it special you can read about it here

I.M.O. we need to keep it and just upgrade is as needed like we do AFH

Eurekahwk 10 years, 11 months ago

How about we drop the field 10-15 ft. Then we can put in a players' tunnel that gives them a cool entrance. And the video board really does block a lot of the view, so why not put in about 10,000 seats in the south endzone?

milwaukeeJAYHAWK 10 years, 11 months ago

i agree, let's keep the stadium. it's so full of tradition, it would be a shame to rebuild it......and a huge cost. our current one is fine, just needs a facelift here and there.

just like Allen Field House.......sure, we could open a brand-new, state of the art 25,000 seat arena on West Campus, but we would lose so much atmosphere and what makes KU home games special.

after graduating from KU, I did my grad school at the U. of Maryland. Their new Comcast Center has absolutely no soul, whereas their old Cole Field House is such a neat little arena. I understand getting all new stadiums can be awesome, but sometimes i don't find it all that necessary.

Ryan Mullen 10 years, 11 months ago

hawkman, I am a huge fan of the football team like any other but the fact is recruits don't care about tradition and the football team has not been all the great over the past forever to warrant this great tradition you are talking about I agree a new football stadium would do wonders for the program and generate alot of revenue.

troutsee 10 years, 11 months ago

I say:

Keep the stadium.

Get rid of the track.

With the flatter field, seats in the first 5 rows will have a better view. So add the seats and drop the field.

Keep the scoreboard in the south end.

Add seats to the south end.

Enlarge the Jayhawk.

And....let's get ready for a heck of a year. Bring on football. I'm ready. We should anticipate a first place finish in the North and, just maybe, a B-12 championship. We'll see. Hopefully, the linebackers will have more speed and learn quickly. If we get a solid performance from the defense, look out for the Jayhawks.

Jim Pendleton 10 years, 11 months ago

I like the idea of a new scoreboard. However, the main scoreboard must be kept at the south end of the field, for nothing else other than it is a better visual. I have been a number of places where they have (or had) their main scoreboard at the north end of their stadium. As a result, it is very difficult to see on a sunny afternoon. I realize we have game times all over the map these days, but day games at any time make it a must to have your main board at the south end. The fairly new auxilary boards at the north end are ok, so I'd say leave those alone.

Main board has always been at the south end, even when it was just a regular board with no other features. In case you haven't noticed, they are making it harder every year to sit on the hill to watch the game, with all the tents, football facilities, etc. A bigger scoreboard will just add to that. Not a big deal if you ask me.

Frankly, our program should be past the point of people only going up there to try and watch the game for nothing on the hill, or looking for $5-$10 tickets. Pay up like the rest of us, so we have a true home field advantage every game. Tickets should already be gone for this season. We have a good opportunity to win our division, and we need all the blue in the stands every week that we can get. The only red I want to see for OU and NU this year is in the visitor section. Quit complaining about things blocking the hill and come inside to be a part of the new Jayhawk Nation football tradition.

railer1122 10 years, 11 months ago

Great point jim. I can't think of any other stadiums that let people watch their games from outside the stadium, actually Iowa State might have that. But anyways, they need to pay and not let Nebraska fill the stadium, again. I have always said we need a scoreboard on the north end, not really a big one though. And we need to make the one on the south end bigger, it is tough to see at times for people sitting on the north end. I agree about adding a tunnel for the players, only thing about that is how are people going to enter the west side of the stadium from the hill? But I am tired of them walking a long ways, and through a chain link fence. And my high school field had a bigger logo than what KU's is now. Make it from 45 to 45 and hash mark to hash mark or something of that nature.

jayhawk4ever 10 years, 11 months ago

I've heard from an inside source what is taking so long for the offical annoucement on the video board is that they are looking into it being two-sided and selling $5 tickets for the hill if the game is sold out. Also i've heard the dimensions will be something like 90x54 kinda like the one at kauffmen also bigger than Nebraska's new one and also bigger than mizzou's but smaller than Texas.

railer1122 10 years, 11 months ago

How are they going to charge for people on the hill? It seems like there are so many ways someone could see the game still without playing

Andy Tweedy 10 years, 11 months ago

ISU does indeed allow you to watch the game from the grass, but it is hardly free. I paid $30+ to watch KU come back in the second half last fall. As for the hill, it was in plain sight when I was a student, and while I understand the downside of freebies sitting on the hill, it is the view of the hill from INSIDE the stadium that I miss. I'm not suggesting the scoreboard be taken down, but I do miss seeing the hill.

LAJayhawk 10 years, 11 months ago

--No need for a new stadium, I think Memorial is a beautiful old structure. One of my favorite things about it is its location. Close to campus and in the middle of the neighborhoods. That part of the city on game days actually reminds me of Wrigleyville. Everyone is out on their respective porches having drinks and tossing balls around. Absolutely wonderful atmosphere. And the stadium structure fits with that neighborhood feel. Puls, it holds a lot of people with no bad seats, and can be added onto if the track is taken out. Just upgrade as needed.

--The video board works best at the South end. I would love to be able to see the hill again (if I make it to another game in Lawrence), but those of you who want it moved to the North side seem to be forgetting about people actually seeing the board. Those sitting in the North end zone would have a hard time viewing it or perhaps not be able to see it at all. Keep it at the South end.


"I can't think of any other stadiums that let people watch their games from outside the stadium..."

Wrigley Field. Although the Cubs organization actually started taking a percentage of the profits from the rooftop tickets this year. Back in the day it used to be totally free, as people in the buildings would just sit up there with their lawn chairs or whatever. Now they all have bleachers and charge for admission.

LAJayhawk 10 years, 11 months ago

Oh, and I absolutely agree about a bigger Jayhawk. As a guy who watches the games on TV, having a big Jayhawk show up on screen is imperative.

Definitely need to get that done.

jayhawk4ever 10 years, 11 months ago

what i meant by charging people is that they would section off an area on the hill for five bucks.

railer1122 10 years, 11 months ago

But do you get my point? We are the only stadium really in the country, football wise, that allows people to watch the game for free. The chain link fence tried to phase that out, and has for the most part, but since our stadium isn't full on a consistent basis, the department is trying to block the view from the hill and make people come inside to watch the games. And anyways all the 'hill sighting' from inside the stadium is blocked out with all the tents that are up there. On the flip side though, the hill is good for young families with little children because everyone has to have a ticket, so a 2 year old would have to have a $40 ticket to get in. That is just a bit ridiculous.

PinkelsVisor 10 years, 11 months ago

I love the idea of a new (hopefully hi-def) scoreboard. The current one is difficult to see from the other half of the field. You can still see the hill, and I can definitely understand wanting a larger Jayhawk.

A new stadium??? I think we're getting ahead of ourselves. The stadium is fine. I'd love to see them build the second level to the north end bowl, though. That would be awesome. It would be much more intimidating for opposing teams (especially in the north ez) and would provide a great view of the hill.

Charging people $5 to watch on the hill? Even only if it's sold out? That's like selling tickets in Kaufman Stadium several years back for people to watch the Monday night Chiefs game. Bush league. They might as well install pay toilets if they're that desperate for cash.

Rock_Chalk_NYC 10 years, 11 months ago

Can we please get a real "COLLEGE" Football Stadium? Sans the track.... We're the only ghetto B12 team with a track around our field for gods sake! Time to step up and give our football and track teams the venues they and we deserve!

FlaHawk 10 years, 11 months ago

Don't understand the timing and potential cost to replacing the field surface and NOT emoving track and dropping field level to add seats.

Does this imply that the new field is going to be riped out in 2-3 years whennew Track facility is completed? Or does it mean that dropping the field and adding additional seats is even further off (like 2018),

KU does not need 7,000 more seats, but dropping field and removing track would be a helluva lot cheap than doing this in two steps, unless the steps are close to ten years out.At ten years out, the turf would need upgarde/replacement and KU would have a track record (no pun intended) to show the need for 7,000 more seats.

I think KUAD needs to be asked about the economics that drove the decision to separate the two events. You kow who will pay for the duplication of work (ticket holders and donors to KUAD)!

Tony Bandle 10 years, 11 months ago

The removal of the track and lowering of the stadium floor is indeed an outstanding idea.....unfortunately, there are some design obstacles that need to be rectified.

This includes the fact that, as you all know, the staduim is at the bottom of the northern bowl of the campus, thus it has significant subsurface drainage and the high watertable is problematic. Also, the addition of more seating will have structural implications regarding soils compressive strength values.

Don't misunderstand...none of the problems are unsolvable, because we face them all the time in architecture, however, finding the best solution paired with the most economical means to do it is the challenge. I totally agree that this would be an outstanding modification to the stadium.

As far as charging for Hill viewing.....Lew, don't you dare....don't even think about!!!!!!

jeremycasefan 10 years, 11 months ago

Charging for the hill is the most stupid idea ive ever heard of. Though the scoreboard is nice I liked it better when the whole thing was open. Ive been a season ticket holder for the past 6 years its amazing what all has changed from the whole team to the stadium but the bigger hawk would be an amazing addition. GO HAWKS

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