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Friday, December 18, 2009

Gridiron Club raises $4 million so far, but project remains ‘full speed ahead’

Millions in funding still needed, but 2010 opening remains target

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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Gridiron Club raises $4 million so far, but project remains 'full speed ahead'

A project to build a new Gridiron Club at Kansas University’s Memorial Stadium remains on track for opening in time for the Jayhawks’ next football season.

A project to build a new Gridiron Club at Kansas University’s Memorial Stadium remains on track for opening in time for the Jayhawks’ next football season.

Even if officials still need another $30 million to pay the bills.

“Our plan is full speed ahead,” said Jim Marchiony, an associate athletics director.

Kansas Athletics Inc. so far has secured $4 million for the project, through sales of memberships for the 3,000-seat club slated to be built atop and alongside the east side of the stadium. The club is expected to have both indoor and outdoor seating, an expansive lounge and complimentary high-end food and drink for members who buy into the club for anywhere from five to 30 years.

But construction cannot and will not begin until Kansas Athletics has sold enough memberships — ranging in price from $30,000 per seat for five years to $105,000 per seat for 30 years — to raise at least $34 million, Marchiony said. That’s the cost for the club itself, plus related changes to parking lots and other features.

“It’s not a question of if it’s going to be built,” he said. “It’s a matter of when.”

He figures on construction taking anywhere from six months to a year, leaving officials with a shrinking timeline for getting the club moving toward completion in time for the season opener Sept. 4 against North Dakota State.

“As soon as we get the money we will begin construction — whether that’s January or February or March or whenever — but at some point soon we’re going to have to determine whether it will be ready for all of the 2010 season or some of 2010,” Marchiony said. “We’re not there yet. We haven’t really picked a date that we will be there. Right now, we’re just full speed ahead and planning on it being done for 2010.”

The formal marketing of memberships started early during the 2009 football season, as Jayhawk football legends Gale Sayers and John Hadl joined Athletics Director Lew Perkins in urging fans to support the KU program.

At first, members had been required to pay the entire cost of memberships upfront. A few weeks later, officials sought to spark interest by allowing donors to pay using interest-free installments.

In recent weeks membership revenues have climbed from $3 million to $4 million, Marchiony said, and interest is picking up. This week’s hiring of Turner Gill as head coach is boosting optimism.

Individual meetings with potential members are producing results.

“We are extremely optimistic about this and we’re talking to a lot of people and it’s our intention, obviously, to get this done,” he said.

The project remains in the design phase, Marchiony said, but quickly could be moved into construction should the money become available. If the club doesn’t open in time for the 2010 season, memberships wouldn’t be in effect until the doors open.

Just how members would be compensated for the delay would be a matter between Kansas Athletics and the individual members.

“We will talk to them about that,” Marchiony said.

Construction of the Gridiron Club is only the first part of a larger financing plan for other athletics and campus needs. Such efforts would be financed by membership fees, which Marchiony estimates could reach $200 million.

Kansas Athletics plans to use $25 million in membership fees to build an “Olympic Village” complex south of Allen Fieldhouse, to be used for nonrevenue sports. Another $40 million in membership fees would be sent to the chancellor’s office, to address academic and other needs at her discretion.

Comments

kureader 12 years, 11 months ago

I hope they're successful. They seem confident, but so far they've sold maybe 120 tickets for a facility that will hold 3,000. And, they've probably already missed the deadline for a 2010 completion date. They're either selling a pipe dream, or they have a couple very large donors lined up (in which case we can assume it won't be called the Gridiron Club for very long). I've discontinued the practice of betting that Lew will come up short when it comes to raising money.

sdoyel 12 years, 11 months ago

Great news. Keep up the support KU fans and alumni!

Bill Kackley 12 years, 11 months ago

This is all bull roar. Who needs it. Just something for the fat cats. How about improvements for the ordinary season ticket holders. I hope it fails miserably. Poor idea to begin with.

kureader 12 years, 11 months ago

kackley ... No offense, but the Gridiron Club is intended to be a money making venture. The "fat cats" are being asked to pay about $6,000 per ticket per year to watch a half dozen KU football games (and they'll get a few other modest perks). This is way more (at least 4 times more) than the cost of building the Club. The article says the extra money will pay for athletic facilities south of the Field House and for other non-athletic facilities. KU's not building something for the "fat cats", the "fat cats" are building something for KU. So, if a bunch of "fat cats" want to pay $6,000 per ticket per season to watch KU football, I say let them do it. I hope KU pulls it off.

jhokfan 12 years, 11 months ago

I want it. We need it. Our stadium is in the best location possible but it is way behind the curve compared to other facilities in the conference. This is a great looking addition, even if I never step foot inside. $4m is a long way away from $30m. Wish T. Boone Pickens was an alum.

Waylon Cook 12 years, 11 months ago

Wow Kackley you have no clue on how Athletic Depts work huh? Kinda hard to pay for your seats with out the GC............

Ryan Gerstner 12 years, 11 months ago

The only people rooting for the GC to fail are K-State & Missouri fans. This is a huge project for KU. It's not like a normal project where you line up a couple donors and build it; this is being funded by the masses. That's why a $34 million construction project is expected to ultimately raise $200 million.

Hard telling how many seats they've sold. Could have sold as many as 400 because you only have to put $10k down per seat, but I doubt they have that many sold yet but I hope they do.

troutsee 12 years, 11 months ago

I am definitely for it. Not sure Kackley has the right frame of mind to be supportive of anything Lew does. He's kind of like the Obama haters...hoping he fails even if it means the citizens/fans/players will be affected adversely. That frame of mind has never made much sense to me. Sure getting the facility built in the next year or even the next two years is probably a stretch. Still, the construction of this facility should be part of our vision.

bpjhawk 12 years, 11 months ago

I'm trying to help Jim! Every Wednesday and Saturday night I await to hear if I can help out!

Dirk Medema 12 years, 11 months ago

The season starts in September (9) and the project could potentially be built in 6 months. That means it would need to be started by March (3) in order to be completed for 2010, so there are 2.5 months to get the rest of what's necessary to start.

I'll likely never see the inside of the GC, but am certainly glad to see KU continuing to improve the facilities. Hopefully, there will be an ever improving team for the fans to continue to support. How many sell outs of Memorial Stadium did we have last year?

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