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Originally published September 17, 2009 at 10:45a.m., updated September 17, 2009 at 04:52p.m.

Regents approve expansion of Memorial Stadium

An exterior shot of the proposed 3,000-seat addition to Memorial Stadium that will include the Gridiron Club.

An exterior shot of the proposed 3,000-seat addition to Memorial Stadium that will include the Gridiron Club.

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Regents approve seating expansion

The plan for expanded seating at Memorial Stadium was approved Thursday. The seats will be for those who sign contracts to become part of the Grid Iron Club.

— The Kansas Board of Regents all but did the wave.

The board on Thursday approved a $34 million addition of high-dollar seating on the east side of Kansas University’s Memorial Stadium, and praised the proposal.

Under the deal, Kansas Athletics Inc. will direct $40 million — a portion of revenue expected from the sale of 3,000 Gridiron Club seats — to academic programs at KU.

Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little called the proposal a “signal event.” She said it will increase the seating capacity, add to the stadium’s aesthetics, and pump money into academic programs.

And just a few hours after getting permission to move forward, the athletics department launched an aggressive campaign to encourage Jayhawk fans to sign a five to 30 year contract for the seats, at costs ranging from $30,000 for those who sign the five-year contract to $105,000 for those who sign on for 30 years.

All payments will be required up front and KU, according to its Web site, hopes to have the building up in time for the 2010 football season.

According to information that KU is providing on its new Web site devoted to the project, fans can choose from indoor seating, outdoor seating or a combination of the two.

In a letter to donors on that site, Athletic Director Lew Perkins said the new facility was needed to finance not only the academic contribution, but also upgrades to other Olympic sport facilities, including the Olympic Sports Village, which was unveiled earlier this year.

“It would be easy to take a breather, but now is not the time to rest. We must continue our momentum,” Perkins wrote.

Those who purchase the Gridiron will receive Williams Educational Fund Priority Points based on the length of the contract they sign and will be able to pass on their suites to a family member, or sell the suite to someone else if they choose to give it up.

The Williams Fund will hold presentations about the club every Tuesday and Thursday starting Tuesday and running until Nov. 12. The sessions last from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. in the Chancellor’s Room of the Anderson Family Football Complex.

Regent Donna Shank said she has read about universities in other states donating athletic funds to academics and was proud to have the same thing happening in Kansas.

“Congratulations to you. Bravo,” Shank said to Gray-Little.

The cost of the project will be paid by Kansas Athletics.

Gray-Little said no decision has been made yet on specific areas to spend the money that is earmarked for academics.

Comments

ttoulouse 4 years, 10 months ago

Cool! can't wait to see the design ideas.

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Michael Leiker 4 years, 10 months ago

Amazing that KU is in a situation to do this. If you're from the Kansas how could you not be a Jayhawk fan knowing that a portion of what you spend as a fan is going directly to enrich the lives of people in the state. Awesome.

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kushogun 4 years, 10 months ago

if you guys want to see the design, just let me know. i work in the construction industry and i've already seen the project on our project bidding database. ran across it just yesterday...

will post a link to designs when they are available.

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Christopher Hauser 4 years, 10 months ago

kushogun- I would love to see the designs, just tell everyone where you are going to post the link.

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Tribehawk 4 years, 10 months ago

So how many seats will $34 million create? A few thousand, or like one really, really, REALLY good one?

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number1jayhawker 4 years, 10 months ago

Ms Shank should have given a big shout out to Big Lew. He's the one that made this happen.

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Dyrk Dugan 4 years, 10 months ago

10,000 should work. the only way you truly increase the noise there is to close off the south end....and that just takes everything that makes the stadium so majestic as an on campus facility....the view of the campus, the opportunity to see the game from the hill, and on and on.

having a 60,000 or 61,000 seat stadium would be just right really.

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100 4 years, 10 months ago

May the concrete palace that John Woiden poured as a youth become bigger & better, so kids can do Naismith's invention (the forward pass) while wearing the special guard he invented (the helmet), while playing in the afformentioned stadium that would only get built in the first place due to the greatest game ever played, a 20-20 comeback tie against the Big Red Machine, our stellar football team coached that year by the great Phog Allen, & assisted by nonother than one of the greatest under 6'0" snappers Springield college has ever had, James Naismith, the best friend of AA Stagg, THE football mind for all time, & THE reason Naismith showed up on the campus to begin with (Stagg sent Naismith a telegram about the KU job opening in 1897).

Alas, without Stagg, the best football mind ever -- there is no Naismith at KU. There is no Phog Allen. No John Wooden pouring conrete (he came to meet Naismith & Phog). There would have been no John Riggins. No Gale Sayers. No orange bowls.

And, worse yet, no Memorial Stadium.

Thank you AA Stagg -- I for one, am glad you helped us kick start our sports programs &, now, thanks to you, I'm thankful we're even able to "consider" making John Wooden Memorial Stadium bigger & better.

Rock Chalk Jayhawk

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Jeff Hargate 4 years, 10 months ago

Hey 100, can you imagine "what" would have happened if Knute Rockne would have taken the job before he went to Notre Dame?

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KanFan27 4 years, 10 months ago

Actually I think that I heard from an official in lawrence that the new seats are in fact going to be nice and they are supposed to boost the capacity 3,000 not 10,000. I am not 100% if those numbers are right but I heard it from a good source. I think the best way to expand is to make the bowl higher. I posted it somewhere else on here but don't remember where but if we could make the bowl higher it would add a lot of seats and a lot of noise.

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TKELuke 4 years, 10 months ago

This is just to add club seating to the other side of the stadium. They are not ready to add cheap seats to the stadium... gotta get the big money first and then the rest of us can get some elbow room... maybe.

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jayhawkinmullen 4 years, 10 months ago

They are going at this the wrong way. They need to tear the stadium down and build a new one bigger and better. They can play all of there games at the new arrowhead for 2 years while they complete the new stadium. Then suddenly there will not be a recruit that will not want to come to KU. We would be unstoppable.

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Pinkels_Visor 4 years, 10 months ago

Finish the upper deck of the bowl! Finish the upper deck of the bowl!

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gardenjay 4 years, 10 months ago

Thanks for the history, 100. Clearly KU B-ball owes a lot to F-ball, but I wouldn't try to explain this to certain B-ball heads.

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jayhawkinmullen 4 years, 10 months ago

100,

Are you 100 years old. Just a question I am not trying to be rude just curious.

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Dirk Medema 4 years, 10 months ago

kushogun - even a general description would suffice.

I seem to recall reading about it a while back, but nothing close to specific (suites?). Didn't realize it was this close to becoming a reality.

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Phoggin_Loud 4 years, 10 months ago

Hello to all. I am new to this board, although I have been following for a while. I'll do my best to double-check all of my spelling. :-)

Here's the previous article about the stadium addition.

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KU2010CHAMPS 4 years, 10 months ago

jayhawkinmullen,

I completely agree they should just tear the stadium down and build a new one. That makes the most sense in my mind.

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Lance Hobson 4 years, 10 months ago

East side? This sounds like club level/boxes for rich alumni on the top vice really adding major fanage. I hoped they would lower the field and get rid of the track, but that is a major engineering move compared to what they seem to be planning here. Either way, we really don't need a bigger stadium when you think about it. We barely sell out now and things will be back to 3/4 full after the great Reesing graduates and Mangino is gone in a few years.

That said, I hope they don't mess with the south end anymore than they already have. The beautiful campus view is one of the joys of watching college football there.

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jayhawkinmullen 4 years, 10 months ago

Jayhawkinmullen,

I also agree you. In all seriousness though it does not make sense too build onto a stadium that has been there for 50+ years. It really needs to be completely renovated. And we all know what you get with renovations 80% new 20% the same old crap. Tear it down and build a new one!!

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Phoggin_Loud 4 years, 10 months ago

O.K. Let's do the math. If they average 7 home games per year for the next 30 years that would equal 210. $105,000 divided by 210 home games = $500 per ticket. Chump change compared to $15,000 per courtside seat at The Phog. And you thought it was only for rich people.

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Phoggin_Loud 4 years, 10 months ago

Oops. I failed to give props to jwliddell for the link to the site with all of the pricing. Thank you.

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100 4 years, 10 months ago

Re: tearing down 50 year old concrete structure.

Answer: John Wooden pours some D*MN STRONG CONCRETE!

Alas John Wooden Memorial should not be torn down...

What needs to happen down the road is simple --

  1. Get out some giant excavators & Dump Trucks & lower the playing surface by 30 feet (tried to use the pythagoriam theorom to get that estimate, but quite honestly it's an educated guess from quite literally the Galapagos Islands)

  2. Add bowled seating where the track was -- this is very sad for me as many KU greats have run/ excercized/ trained on this track including Jim Ryun, Billy Mills, Wilt Chamberlain & even Tyke Peacock. Already, using photoshop, one can see the stadium is beginning to take on more of an Arrowhead feel, PLUS lots more seating.

  3. Lastly this saddens me, but the bowl should be completed -- much lower so we still get the view of Naismith mountain, AND the fans sitting halfway up Naismith/ Mt Oread hill-mountain can still enjoy the game.

This stadium has so much money put into it already, and truly the karma of 10 NCAA championships via John Wooden's sweat poured into it already, so we need to keep the greatness of what is already there.

It's time to find another track -- perhaps an off campus track location owned by the city could be rented, just as John Calipari's Tigers do at Rupp Arena in Lexington?

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jayhawkinmullen 4 years, 10 months ago

100,

What is you infatuation with John Wooden, are you an UCLA alum in disguise. Or is it you can relate with memorial stadium because it was finished the day of you 50th birthday.

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championhawks 4 years, 10 months ago

Isn't there already a plan for a track and field complex where the old practice football fields are? That would solve your problem of finding a new track, 100

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100 4 years, 10 months ago

No infatuation at all, although UCLA has a lot to be proud of as does UNC -- John Wooden, like Dean Smith & Adolph Rupp is just another nice piece of Kansas history in that one of the greatest basketball coaches ever (2nd only to Phog Allen), came to get to know the inventor of the game of basketball (Naismith, a 41 year resident of Lawrence) and what does he get out of meeting the inventor & the greatest coavh ever?

He gets to pour the concrete for our football stadium...

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troutsee 4 years, 10 months ago

Fill in the south end bowl. Let's be a football school as well as a BB school. How many people sit in the stadium and gaze at the campus. Give me a break.

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ku_tailg8 4 years, 10 months ago

I'm all for digging out the whole field and bringing the stands in closer. I love the stadium but that track is a real buffer zone for noise. I'm sure KU could build a nice track elsewhere for the track and field athletes.

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hawkfan20 4 years, 10 months ago

PhogginLoud, you really ought to do the math because you're way off. The courtside seats are only generating $600,000/year. The new football club level is worth about $315 million up front, or if you annualize it ought choosing the least expensive average annual cost, it would generate $10.5 million/year, which is nearly 20 times what the new courtside seats are generating. Football can generate way more money than hoops and KU has one of the elite basketball programs. The nice thing about this project is KU is getting all the money up front and funding major capital projects all across KU Athletics and then kicking another $40 million over to the academic side. This is an incredible opportunity for KU and frankly, we're fortunate that we've been mediocre historically that we have the opportunity to do this now and rake in all this cash.

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DCJayhawk0208 4 years, 10 months ago

Hate to burst your bubble, 100, but Wooden didn't work on the construction of Memorial Stadium. Wooden didn't graduate from high school until 1928 (the major portions of the stadium were built in 1920 (East and West), 1925 (bleachers expanded south) and 1927 (the North Bowl).

That's just an urban legend.

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Phoggin_Loud 4 years, 10 months ago

Settle down Hawkfan20, I was using sarcasm. Anything we can do to boost revenue and keep/increase our elite national programs is fine with me. I am on board with Captain Lew! He's steering this ship in the right direction. Keep up the great work Mr. Perkins!

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Tony Bandle 4 years, 10 months ago

As a KU graduate of the School of Architecture, I can guarantee that this is a slamdunk. Like the previous expansion, this should be pretty much a self-supported structure with relatively minor impact on the existing grandstands except for crossover transitions and access points.

The issue with the playing field being lowered is that because the field is so picturesquely located at the bottom of the valley, it also happens to be on the primary drainage pattern for half of the campus. The watertable being high is the problem being grappled with. To fix any problem, all it takes is money and,, apparently, KU is in good shape in that department!!

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4 years, 10 months ago

DCJayhawk0208 ~

Click on the following link and view the comment made at on May 11 at 12:35pm.

It reads:

5yardfuller (anonymous) says... From the book, “How To Be Like Coach Wooden”, “During the summer of 1927, before his senior year in high school, Coach and a high school teammate hitchhiked to Kansas to work in the wheat fields there. The Martinsville High School team had won the Indiana state championship that year, so the boys wore their state championship letterman jackets on the road in order to increase their chances of getting a ride. When they reached Lawrence, the boys discovered, to their dismay, that the wheat crop was not yet ready for harvest. So, instead, they got a job pouring concrete for the University of Kansas’ new football stadium, Memorial Stadium. At night, they slept on the floor of the campus gymnasium. Memorial Stadium is still in use today, and Wooden chuckles, “I think I did an excellent job.””


Regarding the dates in the LJW articles, Memorial Stadium was originally built in 1921. In 1927 the north bowl was added increasing capacity from 22,000 to 35,000.

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Kevin Long 4 years, 10 months ago

I think it's great they are constantly upgrading all the sports facilities. You have to do always be moving forward or your left behind.

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100 4 years, 10 months ago

Txrockchalk, nice research. Thanks for standing up

The most interesting part of Wooden coming to me was: not only was he looking for work he conviently chose the Lawrence area knowing he'd have a shot at meeting Phog & Naismith who were becoming for the times rather big celebrities. A story came out later that one of Wooden's friends said Wooden was planning on playing for the Jayhawks but his father was sick in Indiana so he ended up playing for Purdue.

Realize at the age of 12 Wooden would hear the legendary "Jayhawks" play on the radio in Indiana for the couple big games that were covered through the majestic 1922 & 1923 seasons the last game against Missouri was especially impactful to him, where Paul Endacott won the game & completed the undefeated season & for all intents and purposes the "national championship" which would be claimed many years later by Helms by using simple grit, strength & determination, forcing jump ball after jump ball against the bigger slower Tigers. Wooden most especially wanted to meet his childhood hero Endacott but unfortunately Endacott had moved on to play professionally for the 66ers, an Oil club/ firm down in OK where Endacott eventually moved up nearly to the equivalent of CEO

Back to the point at hand. Even in interviews later that meeting with Naismith & Phog was very important to the young John Wooden. Iits like being a fat little five year old in a candy store meeting the guy who invented taffy & getting to taste a fresh batch. He was hooked & had a chance if only momentarily to see life through the inventor's eyes which were not the eyes of greed & domination but the eyes of a good man who loved sports & education

Apparently it rubbed off well on Wooden as he became a high school english teacher coaching poorly his teams initially

The more he reflected on his time with Naismith & Phog the better he became he once said because it was the kindness & love for the game that was so important, and his teaching paid the most important dividends to his teams to keep practices driven by mind, self & a highly organized format

Without visiting Lawrence he never wins 10 championships. The young man John Wooden like Phog Allen Dean Smith Adolph Rupp & John McClendon was moved by the creator in a deeper way that changed the course of history

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jhokfan 4 years, 10 months ago

The artist rendering is nice! It maintains a stylish collegiate look and adds capacity as well. We can always add another level at the north end if the demand is there but I hope they never close the horseshoe. I’d rather see them move the scoreboard to the north side and open up the view to the campus. The view looking up the hill on TV is an awesome site. Thank god they aren’t going the route of K-State. Their stadium is not even on campus and it has all the ambience of a strip mall.

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Armen Kurdian 4 years, 10 months ago

On paper, it makes sense that the initial investment will be paid off with higher revenues, although I'm curious if they have some sort of committments from alumni to buy these new seats.

Does anyone know if the stadium has been surveyed, how structurally sound it is, and how much life it's got left? Obviously, someone thinks it's got at least another 32, which would make it over 100 years old. That's a lot of weight to build onto a 100 year old structure; we don't want Wescoe Hall syndrome here (when they were making Wescoe a parking garage & were halfway done, they realized the hill couldn't take the weight and they turned it into a building instead).

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100 4 years, 10 months ago

Jhawks1510,

Nice points -- obviously a couple of important surveys are in order to see how long this palace can stand -- all I know is those beams, unlike the stadiums made in the 70's are VERY thick. As long as we don't go a lot higher up, we should be fine.

That's why I like dropping the field down -- the structure would then remain itself -- it doesn't get touched & the lower seating is built into the earth itself, backed by steel supports hidden behind the seats, the front rows practically right up on the endzones.

Jhokfan,

You're right -- I recant my previous statement from yesterday about the South end being completed. Your idea is better -- completely open up the south end & move the scoreboard to the north End. This is the prettiest view in America, and it's completely Jayhawk.

With the playing field getting dropped we still get the enclosed (below the earth) South end forty rows or so for those endzone replays.

Dropping the playing surface is key.

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4 years, 10 months ago

100 ~

You got it. I enjoyed the exchange you had with jaybate from that May article.


jhawks1510 ~

Check out this website blurb from the following link regarding Wescoe Hall:

"Initially a Wichita architecture firm planned a 25-story building with parking; lack of money and the loss of federal funding made a less imposing structure necessary. Architects Horst, Terrill and Karst of Topeka designed a four-story, cast-concrete modernist building set into the hillside. (In the two years the site stood empty, it was dubbed "Wescoe Hole" and was a meeting place for, among others, Vietnam War protesters.)"

http://www.kupedia.org/wiki/index.php?title=Wescoe_Hall

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AverageCitizen 4 years, 10 months ago

1510- "Does anyone know if the stadium has been surveyed, how structurally sound it is, and how much life it's got left? Obviously, someone thinks it's got at least another 32, which would make it over 100 years old."

The Roman Coliseum is WAAAY older and people still walk through it. If it's built well, it lasts!

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Tony Bandle 4 years, 10 months ago

Remember, when this stadium was built, steel was a lot cheaper and the builders weren't afraid to "over design". My suggestion to all...if there is an earthquake head to or under a part of the original construction, but first try to get the hell out altogether!!

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jayhawkinmullen 4 years, 10 months ago

Averagecitizen,

Isn't the Roman Coliseum in ruins.

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100 4 years, 10 months ago

Jayhawkinmullen,

It's in ruins because John Wooden didn't pour the concrete.

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gardenjay 4 years, 10 months ago

Well, the Coliseum lasted a long time, and it is still bringing in a lot of revenue for Rome! So don't knock the coliseum.

Also: Alumni will never, never, never allow closure in the horseshoe stadium. Being able to gaze at the campus is precisely what makes sense for this university, unlike other, buck ugly universities, and what a beautiful sight (and site) it is. Also, poor students and townies could watch the games together on the hill.

There are cases for oval stadiums for OTHER universities, for example:

1) If the Univ. of Michigan opened their wonderful 100,000 plus stadium to a view, would the choose the view of, gasp, beautiful Pioneer Suckwad High School? Or merely a blank urban slate? GROSS! KEEP IT CLOSED, at least you can enjoy a brief spate of relief from eye-soredom. 2) if the Univ. of Texas opened their, well, wait it is already partially opened. Not so nice, no topography, urban looking.

list to be continued...but, you know,

Would you want a beautiful girlfriend to wear a burka? What about that makes any sense? If you want a big house like Michigan, then we lower our field, and keep it visible to the hill from every seat in the house. You can fit 100,000 in there if you really try.

When our graduates walk down the hill, do they mill into the wall of your future dream stadium? Seriously, that is no way to integrate a successful sports program into a successful University steeped in some pretty cool traditions.

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