Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Zenger: Memorial Stadium renovation project is KU’s ‘all-encompassing campaign’

According to KU Athletics officials, Memorial Stadium is set to undergo a $300 million renovation. Currently, architects are completing renderings of the renovation plans.

According to KU Athletics officials, Memorial Stadium is set to undergo a $300 million renovation. Currently, architects are completing renderings of the renovation plans.


In ongoing efforts to revitalize the Kansas football program, no strategy looms larger than the planned $300 million renovation project for Memorial Stadium.

KU athletics director Sheahon Zenger appeared Wednesday on “The Program” with Soren Petro, in part to discuss the university’s new partnership with 810 WHB. But he also took time to reflect on the stadium project, saying he has looked forward to the massive task at hand since arriving in Lawrence in 2011.

“I don’t think there are words to describe just how big that is,” Zenger said on WHB of renovations for KU’s football facilities. “It’s something that just absolutely necessarily has to be done. When I got here a number of years ago, it was at the top of my priority list, and it has remained there ever since. What I didn’t realize when I came here ... was we also needed about seven other facilities before we could embark on that one, and we have been able to check those off.”

The outfits Zenger referenced include Rock Chalk Park — home to KU track, soccer and softball, as well as Jayhawk Tennis Center — KU golf’s Jayhawk Club, the DeBruce Center and McCarthy Hall.

Next, KU’s athletic department will count on donations to enable a Memorial Stadium facelift and build a new indoor practice facility for football.

“We are ready for this. This is our all-encompassing campaign. This is what it’s all about. The endowment association is on board with us. But at the same time, this is really the beginning,” Zenger said. “There’s a lot of work to be done between here and there. There’s a lot of boxes to be checked on campus and then the state to make sure we’re doing things the right way. And so I can’t say a whole lot beyond that, other than just it’s a time that I’ve waited for and this athletic department’s waited for and certainly the football program.”

Architect renderings of the project initially were expected to be unveiled sometime in September. But though a September reveal still remains in play, it’s now possible the designs might not reach the public eye until October, a KU official told the Journal-World.

On WHB, Zenger didn’t divulge much about how the stadium, which opened in 1921, will look different in the near future.

“I think it’s the best location in the country in terms of the view of campus and just the college feel,” Zenger said. “We’ll do everything in our power to honor that and protect that legacy.”

During a later segment on “The Program,” third-year KU football coach David Beaty also discussed what lies ahead for the near-century-old stadium. Beaty emphasized “first-class facilities” have become prevalent throughout FBS.

“It brings us up to speed with what true Power Five looks like,” Beaty said of the upcoming project. “We have a storied history, historical stadium right down here that’s beautiful. If they didn’t do a thing to it, it still would be one of the most beautiful settings in all of college football. However, it’s a new day and age, and even she needs to be touched up. We need to make sure we get that taken care of and make sure our fans have a terrific experience, because our players are going to benefit from that, as well.”

While Anderson Family Football Complex, home to KU’s football offices, locker room and weight room, has been updated during the past several years — Beaty described it as “second to none” — the coach wants Memorial Stadium to reach that level, too.

“Now it’s time to make sure that our fans have that same experience,” Beaty said.


John Brazelton 4 years, 5 months ago

Where's the indoor football practice facility going to be built? Over one of the current outdoor practice fields?

Robert Brock 4 years, 5 months ago

Too little, too late. BLOW MEMORIAL STADIUM UP! Start over.

John Fitzgerald 4 years, 5 months ago

Where would they play if that was the plan? The practice field? Rock Chalk park?

Brett McCabe 4 years, 5 months ago

Moving this team would destroy the program. If we were OU or Alabama, Michigan, Ohio State, etc., it might be possible but not this program, certainly not now.

Games at Arrowhead would attract probably fewer than 15,000, it would kill our recruiting - it would absolutely end it. There really is no choice unless you could erect a temporary stadium somehow in Lawrence - which seems beyond far-fetched.

Chris DeWeese 4 years, 5 months ago

A little dramatic, don't you think? Playing at Arrowhead wouldn't kill the program. I hear there are a lot of Jayhawk fans in KC and the surrounding areas. Just sayin'.

Gerry Butler 4 years, 5 months ago

I don't think Brett is being dramatic at all. I agree, we are having enough trouble getting butts in the seats right now with the games being played in Lawrence, little lone moving them to Arrowhead. - -We struggle putting 35,000 most of the time right now where we are at. You move these game to Arrowhead detracts in more ways then one. - -Lose what little home environment we DO HAVE - - - would be less students for the game and those students make up a pretty decent portion of what we got right now, NO moving these games to Arrowhead makes no sense, we may have some fans there but the loss would out weigh the gain, you think it looks bad right now in the stands? - -ya, move it to Arrowhead and then look at the scenario you'll get there

Joe Ross 4 years, 5 months ago

I like Brett. I dont think he's being dramatic. I think he's just wrong. Playing games outside of Lawrence would not kill the program and there is no evidence for this.

Still, keeping the current structure in place and building around it is probably not only the fastest way to complete the project, it almost certainly makes the most financial sense.

Randy Bombardier 4 years, 5 months ago

Play at arrowhead, I'm for starting over too, I think. I love historical preservation but just don't see what can be done with the facility. There's nothing ornate about it. Use rock chalk limestone on its facade.

Brian Wilson 4 years, 5 months ago

Here is what I would do if I were doing it. They should go back to the original facade of the stadium. Gut out and refurbish it but leave the original stadium that lie underneath. Pull down the east side seating of the stadium that was added and joined to the original facade. Then do the same thing to the West side including the Press boxes. Refurbish the orginal outside concrete and make it look like it did when first built. Then lower the playing field about 10 feet and add seating where the old track was and bring the fans up close to the field. Next, add an arched roof to match Allen Field House by building an arching roof over the entire length of the football playing field field with the arch going from east to west. The arched roof would start from the tops of two brand new luxury boxes that stretch the lenght of the field and are designed to be exactly the same height from east side to westside of the stadium. The new luxury boxes would create a flat ceiling over half of the depth of the original seating area towards the field, two luxury levels high, starting 10 feet above the last row of regular seating. The facades of the new luxury boxes would be even with the original facades on both east and west sides and finished off to match. The north and south ends of the stadium would be open air. In essence, creating a Jayhawk sound tunnel. Leave both ends of the stadium open air and uncovered so that the view from the hill remains. Take out all the bench seating putting in backed seats with cup holders and the works. Take down or reduce the size of the south end zone scoreboard so hill fans can see the game. Make the hill into an advantage and accent it's history instead of making it a pain to fans that can't afford to the price of regular tickets or the cost to bring the whole family to the game. Move the current score board or put a new bigger score board in the North end zone in a position that even people on the hill can see it. This would remove some seating in the North end but behind the scoreboard at the top of the North end you could add storage, offices, etc and make use of the space. Then gate off the Hill and charge (maybe $5 to $10) to bring your blanket and sit on the hill and the make more money by adding a small concessions area on the hill. I'm not entirely sure but since it's up on the hill and outside the stadium, they might even be able to sell beer. KU would probably be the only stadium in the entire world set up this way and it would be a major venue and attraction. In addition, I imagine what the sound traveling through the Tunnel might be like. RCJHKUuuu.......! Also, Imagine this for a concert or festival with the stage on the North end and people sitting and stretched all the way up the hill with lawn seating. Maybe someone will see this idea and think it's good.

Brian Wilson 4 years, 5 months ago

To answer the question about posts and how to do this. In essence the new luxury boxes with arched roof top would be self supporting and built like a suspension bridge. The burden of the weight of the new constuction including the luxury boxes would not be on the old structure. New Large posts would be added just in front of both east and west facades , covered in concrete, upon which the arch would be built. In order to keep beams above line of sight inside the structure, the luxury boxes would essentially be hanging off the bottom beams under the arch that span the width of the field,

Thomas Green 4 years, 5 months ago

Very interesting comments. I like to hear others views on how they believe this monumental undertaking should be done. It's obviously clear the existing stadium will be the basis for the changes. Just how much will remain is a big question and I'll wait for the reveal to pass my own personal judgement on the balance the design brings. That said, I certainly believe talented individuals can and will come up with design we can all be proud of. I do think after the design is presented to the public there should be a formal forum on KU's part for everyone to levy comments, thoughts and ideas about said design. Thereafter, my hope would be that the administration could somehow analyze such data and incorporate obvious changes the abundance of fans agree would essential to the design. It does seem Zenger and the administration are well aware of the epic importance of this decision and that failure is not an option.

Aaron Paisley 4 years, 5 months ago

Texas A&M rebuilt Kyle Field in 2 offseasons and that stadium is twice as big as Memorial in capacity and has 3 tiers instead of just one.

The way to do this is to demo the north end of the stadium and square it off in the first offseason and the do the east and west sides the second offseasons. Probably would have play the spring games at Rock Chalk Park for a couple of seasons, but rebuilding Memorial can be done without KU playing at a different venue.

Brad Farha 4 years, 5 months ago

I think it's going to something along these lines. Half of it one off season, and then the other off the next one. I'm of the mindset that we can't play temporarily at another facility.

Al Martin 4 years, 5 months ago

Yep. This is how you do a rebuild. A piece at a time. And squaring off the bowl is absolutely the right first step.

Steve Corder 4 years, 5 months ago

Like every KU fan I am curious as to the new look. However, I am just as curious (maybe slightly more) with the kind of amenities which will help draw fans to the stadium....ultimately, the buzz will be more about the amenities available than # of seats and exterior configuration.

Randy Bombardier 4 years, 5 months ago

Great ideas, Brian. Really terrific. Hope you get the bid. You are right. Concrete can be made to look nice. Check out the restored Barton County Courthouse, it's Greek Revival i believe, cast concrete.

Doug Merrill 4 years, 5 months ago

Lots of good ideas; many above the 300M level, which seems like a high bar right now.

Brian Wilson 4 years, 5 months ago

LOL, you are correct and I am dreaming. I calculate my luxury bridge Idead to be about 22000sq meters. Suspension bridges cost about 9K per square meter and that would mean my bridge idea without any other renovations would cost about 200 million dollars.

Lance Hobson 4 years, 5 months ago

If they're not talking about a major renovation in getting rid of the track space and getting the fans closer than this is a waste of time. Adding cute amenities like a better press box is just polishing a terd. Wish somebody would tell us what the plan is.

Lance Hobson 4 years, 5 months ago

And they better not touch the hill or mess with the view to the south.

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