Thursday, July 12, 2012

KU AD Zenger: Memorial Stadium changes coming … just not for a while

The renovation of Memorial Stadium and removal of the track that surrounds its field — seen here on Wednesday, July 12, 2012 — are projects many in the Kansas University football community would welcome. KU officials continue to explore their options regarding a stadium face-lift, but KU athletic director Sheahon Zenger said any plans are on hold until a new home is found for the Jayhawk track and field programs.

The renovation of Memorial Stadium and removal of the track that surrounds its field — seen here on Wednesday, July 12, 2012 — are projects many in the Kansas University football community would welcome. KU officials continue to explore their options regarding a stadium face-lift, but KU athletic director Sheahon Zenger said any plans are on hold until a new home is found for the Jayhawk track and field programs.


When Kansas University athletic director Sheahon Zenger someday decides to give Memorial Stadium a makeover, it won’t be at the request of new football coach Charlie Weis.

Although he has yet to coach a game in the place, Weis recently offered a positive review of his new home stadium.

“I mean, sure, would you like to have suites on the other side and take the track out and sink the field a little bit more and have the stands closer to the field? Sure. Great,” Weis said. “That would be wonderful. But I have no complaints with this place.”

Neither do the dozens of people who have come through his office since he took over last December. Although Weis can see what Memorial Stadium could one day become, he said he was happy to leave the daydreaming to the fans and would gladly live with the picture-perfect view from his corner office at the Anderson Family Football Complex.

“People love this view,” said Weis, from a story above the field, looking out from the southwest corner of the venue. “They love what the stadium looks like from this office. There isn’t one person who’s come in here who hasn’t said, ‘That’s awesome.’ I’m talking recruits, their parents, everyone. So when everyone else is complaining about the place, everyone that walks in here says, ‘God, what a view. What a place.’”

That includes Zenger, who, believe it or not, is still just in his second year on the job. During his first 18 months in town, Zenger has hired and fired a few coaches, successfully helped navigate KU through the uneasy waters of conference realignment and done everything in his power to change the way KU athletics is viewed, both by those inside the walls and the even larger faction of people on the outside.

It’s tasks such as those that forced Zenger to push renovations — at nearly all of KU’s facilities — to the back burner, but that does not mean stadium plans have been forgotten.

“We will do something very special with Memorial Stadium,” Zenger said. “But we want to make sure we honor what we have, and we want to make sure we do it right, because we only get one chance.”

The point of contention for most includes removal of the track that surrounds Memorial Stadium’s playing surface. In order to do that, Zenger and company first need to complete the ongoing search for a new home for KU’s track programs. Until that is settled — something that seems to be drawing closer each month — nothing can or will be done to Memorial Stadium, Zenger said.

Even when that day arrives, Zenger made sure to emphasize that any changes to any of KU’s athletic facilities would be made with the idea of paying tribute to the past as a top priority.

“Our history is what makes us different at the University of Kansas,” Zenger said. “Whether it be our traditions or what we’ve done competitively, and whether it be in basketball, track and field or football, we have a rich, rich legacy at the University of Kansas. And we want to be very careful as we plan for the future that we always move forward without damaging that legacy.”

Zenger, who also made sure to point out that he and his department were excited about the possibilities and eager to get to work, compared the current Memorial Stadium conundrum to the uncertain future that faced the Jayhawks’ basketball facility not long ago.

“I think we would all regret had we, years ago, built some sort of coliseum or arena to replace Allen Fieldhouse,” he said. “And I also think we would regret doing anything to Memorial Stadium that does not maintain the significance of that stadium’s place in the history and lore of Kansas football and our commencement ceremonies. We have a historic stadium, and anything we do to that football stadium is going to honor what I think is one of the greatest locations in the nation for a football stadium. We have one of the true stadiums left in the Midwest.”


ahpersecoachingexperience 10 years, 1 month ago

Wonder what Charlie and the dozens of people will say when they take the field on a Saturday. Where instead of slapping the "play like a champion today" sign the players slap the walls of an inflatable tunnel that looks like something you could rent for your kids birthday party. Then running across eight lanes of track and a CFL size end zone to the field. Wondering why it's so quiet and then figuring out it's because and entire end of a stadium is filled with eighteen wheel trucks, chain link fence, and a couple of suckers that overpaid to sit on a couch to watch the game allowing the noise to escape.

Some tradition!

Kay Jensen 10 years, 1 month ago

Okay, Eeyore. We get it, our stadium needs work.

ahpersecoachingexperience 10 years, 1 month ago

Someone explain timezones to jhaux. He must of skipped that day in first grade.

actorman 10 years, 1 month ago

And you must "of" skipped the day in first grade where they talked about the difference between "of" and "have."

Al Salazar 10 years, 1 month ago

"looks like something you could rent for your kids birthday party."

You were able to reproduce some lil' purse snatchers?

Brak 10 years, 1 month ago

No, he just likes to frequent little kids' birthday parties. Kind of like wedding crashers but much more creepy.

Ben Kliewer 10 years, 1 month ago

The Bouncy Castle was of the Turner Gill Era, wasn't it? I just assumed we'd be rid of it this year. The LA Kings got rid of theirs and look what happened to them.

Andy Tweedy 10 years, 1 month ago

I seem to be in the minority (at least in this post), but I agree with almost everything you just said. Maybe it's the way you said it that's got them fired up, or maybe it's your rep, but 1) the inflatable tunnel sucks, 2) the track sucks, and 3) the 18-wheelers don't help. And the couches might be nice, but who pays top dollar to sit in the endzone? They are and always have been the worst seats in the house!

bigjaybabyjay 10 years, 1 month ago

It's like a golf hospitality section. All-inclusive food, drink (beer/wine), HDTV's and sun awnings. And when the ball is near the South Endzone, the best goal line environment in the stadium.

Gavin Fritton 10 years, 1 month ago

Those trucks are at every game at every large school stadium in the country. The difference is that at KU you can see them from the stands and frequently on TV because that end of the stadium is open. You don't want to see the trucks, you have to close off that end of the stadium. But then there's no chance of watching the game from the hill and that is one of KU's football traditions. One that has been undercut by the addition of an ever-expanding scoreboard, but still.

ahpersecoachingexperience 10 years, 1 month ago

You can't see the game from the hill anymore, anyway.

Benjamin Piehler 10 years, 1 month ago

I'd tend to agree... Since they made the jumbo TV bigger, it's not as easy to watch the game on the hill. At the time I had wondered if Ole Lew did it to get more people to pay admission.

Jeff Kilgore 10 years, 1 month ago

The cheapest, best first start to improve the stadium would be to move the scoreboard to the north bowl. The view of the hill is legendary, and whether we have a great football team or not, which typically we don't, we have the view of the hill.

As far as what's left on the south side, Homer Simpson was right, it "is worse than nothing." Leave it the way it was.

ahpersecoachingexperience 10 years, 1 month ago

"rip his f--k--g head off"

It's directions on what you are to do if you ever meet the architect that designed Memorial Stadium.

KGphoto 10 years, 1 month ago

Of course. That makes a lot of sense, because in 1921 when it was the first athletic facility on a campus west of the Mississippi, it should have been designed to perfectly accommodate today's game. If they were worth their salt they would've realized it had to look good on TV too. Maybe they should've installed a retractable roof, field turf and a giant video board...

Kansas1241 10 years, 1 month ago

As a die-hard KU fan I couldn't agree more with those comments! When rivals like Mizzou and K-State are spending millions of dollars in renovations, we continue to have a disgusting track around our football field. It's okay though at least we're great at basketball!

Lance Hobson 10 years, 1 month ago

Wow, that's harsh. Mostly true, but harsh.

Doug Cramer 10 years, 1 month ago

I like Zenger's take...when he says "we need to honor what we have, and we want to make sure we do it right, because we only have one chance".

A thorough process to brainstorm ideas on how to renovate the stadium. One day Memorial Stadium will be a top 5 facility.

Advice - utilize personnel that were involved with renovating Kauffman. Now that's a nice place to take in a ball game. Not to go off on a tangent...but Royals need starting pitching...and they could win the central within two years.

Bangkok_Jayhawk 10 years, 1 month ago

I completely agree with your take on Kaufmann. People who don't even like baseball can have fun at a game. With Memorial in the shape it is in, there are not a lot of redeeming factors when the team plays like it has played for the past 2 1/2 years. The did a fantastic job with Kaufmann.

hawk316 10 years, 1 month ago

And TableRock, I agree with your take on Zenger's take... I think he's spot on...let's do this right and honor those who went before while doing it.

I also want to say that I'm pretty darned impressed with the job Zenger has done thus far. I liked the hire when it occurred, and I like it even more after 18 months.

Bangkok_Jayhawk 10 years, 1 month ago

Positive: I am thrilled with the job that Zenger and Weis have done. When he arrived, the Athletic department was faced with conference uncertainty, large debt, scandal and also losing too much in too many sports. Today, some form of progress has been made on all of those issues. Zenger and Weis both get an A+ for what they have been able to do in a short amount of time. It would have been a lot easier to hire a promising coordinator for a much lower price during our time of financial woes, but Zenger opted for the expensive buyout of Gill and the hiring of Weis to prove he means business.

Negative: Weis said the politically correct thing when he said the stadium was not in bad shape, but then quickly mentioned 3 things (track, seating level close to the field, and the Gridiron Club) that need to be improved. By Big 12 standards, KState, which already had a stadium much more appealing than ours, just invested 10s of millions of dollars in renovations. Our stadium does not even come close to competing with Mizzou or other schools we are competing for.

It DOES make a difference to recruits. I understand that 10's of millions of dollars don't come out of thin air, but we are going to fight an uphill recruiting battle until we make some big changes. I'm glad to hear that steps are being taken (building a track facility) and that they are not ignoring the topic.

Jeff Kilgore 10 years, 1 month ago

No. Renovation can work. But a major renovation. There are many problems that smart design can solve and it needs to be done in this decade, five years or so, not 20 years from now or KU will completely lose any credibility. Recruits do look and they do talk.

Bangkok_Jayhawk 10 years, 1 month ago

The Bangkok_Jayhawk Plan:

  1. Remove the track and add seating closer to the field: Increased seating at a close distance from the field will make for a much better home field advantage. ***Major investment.
  2. Gridiron Club: ***Major investment
  3. There is still, in a Big 12 Stadium in 2012, a chain link fence behind the scoreboard as a boundary. Put some form of a wall that is nicer to look at and still allows for a nice graduation ceremony.
  4. The ugly concrete walls can be covered up with limestone or something a little nicer to look at. Not a major investment.
  5. Some form of a large banner or large plaque to commemorate past bowl wins and achievements.
  6. There are still metal bleachers... Replace some, or most, of the bleachers with better seating options.
  7. Maybe paint a large KANSAS on the seating on the bowl side? Could be cool.
  8. Concourses could be upgraded.

Also... I like that our stadium is a memorial but the fact that there are several stadiums named Memorial Stadium annoys me... Maybe we can be original, and still pay tribute by changing the name to... "CAMPANILE STADIUM"

The Campanile is a memorial as well. A respectful but original change could be cool. Thoughts?

Andy Tweedy 10 years, 1 month ago

I do like option 7, never thought about that.

nuleafjhawk 10 years, 1 month ago

As long as it's not KANSAS UNIVERSITY.

Sorry. I couldn't help it.

Darrell Alexander 10 years, 1 month ago

You haven't addressed the North bowl, possibly the worst seats in all of college football. There's so many issues with Memorial and so little history. You can't compare it to Allen, they are on two completely different planets when it comes to history and winning. If you really want a nice stadium that KU fans could be proud of then you need to build one. Large HD TVs and great angles and replays have made it very easy to sit at home and watch TV. If you want people to come to a live game you better have a great facility and good seats that you can really see the action from. Or you better win a lot of games.

rockchalk_dpu 10 years, 1 month ago

Not sure if the Gridiron Club is ever going to happen or even be a popular ticket considering where it would be located. With as many afternoon/early evening games as we have, the sun just hangs on that side of the stadium and blinds people making it a less than idea viewing spot.

I think you make a great point about putting in a retaining wall along the boundary to replace the fences, and they could incorporate some of the iron work from the practice field to have 2 large gates into the stadium to really clean that end up.

Not sure I'd advocate for a large KANSAS painted on the bowl considering the grief I've given MU fans for the visibility of that block M in the basketball arena when games aren't well attended. There is a need though to upgrade some of the bleachers to something nicer, but the added maintenance might make that prohibitive.

The concourses aren't bad now that they have opened things up a little more, though part of the problem is they are restricted by available space, which would require another huge demo to make them bigger, especially the ones on the upper ring on the alumni side and I just can't see that being a big enough priority.

What other people have said on this post is true though, these are all great ideas to change and improve the stadium to make the fan experience better and help catch recruits eye, but we aren't going to see much done if there is still a 2 or 3 win team on the field each year.

texashawk10 10 years, 1 month ago

2 different memorials, Memorial Stadium is a memorial to WWI vets and the Campanile is a memorial to WWII vets.

Bangkok_Jayhawk 10 years, 1 month ago

Very true... The politics of that could get ugly.

Benjamin Piehler 10 years, 1 month ago

I had a buddy who worked in the AD a few years ago and was one of the poor souls who had to call alumni to raise money for the Gridiron Club. You'd probably have better luck now since the program is relatively energized.... But there were few takers back then. Id be surprised if it happened.

JayDocMD 10 years, 1 month ago

says the person with the stupid cartoon as an avatar

Bangkok_Jayhawk 10 years, 1 month ago

Disagree Manginorh00lz... At one time it looked like Allen Field House was out dated and now it is a modern facility with great history. A little renovation can go a long ways. A new stadium would be a ridiculous expense when you could make it into a first class stadium for half the price.

Phoghorn 10 years, 1 month ago

Can't tell from your typo...did you meen to type "esteem" or "penis"?

Gary Wirsig 10 years, 1 month ago

Not to pile on too much, but what credibility?

JayDocMD 10 years, 1 month ago

Blasphemy! Even the lowliest MIZZERY fan would admit that's idiocy. If that doesn't earn you a lifetime ban from commenting, what does?

nuleafjhawk 10 years, 1 month ago

Let's just throw in there that Samantha Ryan is ugly and Calimari really is a great guy.

milehighhawk 10 years, 1 month ago

The single stupidest thing anyone has ever posted to

Ron Prichard 10 years, 1 month ago

When virtually every fan, student, national publication, ESPN analyist and sports reporter in the country list Allen Fieldhouse as the best college basketball arena, there is no reason to replace it. None. You're credibility is zero.

JayDocMD 10 years, 1 month ago

Lets raze that other "shed", the Sistine Chapel, while we're at it..

Dan Harris 10 years, 1 month ago

wow! most idiotic statement of all time on this board, congrats on that accomplishment!

Jeff Kilgore 10 years, 1 month ago

Tear down the Pyramid at Giza and while you're at it, push that leaning tower down too! It needs an updating.

Eric Dawson 10 years, 1 month ago

Giza and Pisa in one pithy, succinct comment! Nicely done, jkilgore!

nuleafjhawk 10 years, 1 month ago

“I mean, sure, would you like to have suites on the other side and take the track out and sink the field a little bit more and have the stands closer to the field? Sure. Great,” Weis said. “That would be wonderful. But I have no complaints with this place.”

. . . I wish my wife were 4 inches taller, 25 lbs thinner, 10 years younger, and was a gourmet chef. Other than that, I have no complaints about her.

Tony Bandle 10 years, 1 month ago

I think you're showing your age. I would have replaced "gourmet chef" with a more seductive trait. Unless, of course, she has that already, in which case then you can drop the first three!!

nuleafjhawk 10 years, 1 month ago

lol - i would have "thumb up'd" that, but my antique Internet Explorer at work (I know, I'm the only one who does this at work) won't let me!

april28 10 years, 1 month ago

Here's how you do it....

  1. Build a parking garage at the Robinson lot - three stories. Top level, lay down turf for rec programs.

  2. Build a world-class track stadium at Shenk Fields. Tons of parking already. Secure the rights to host the Kansas State HS Track Championships.

  3. Renovate Memorial. Keep the View!

Put the track at a high-traffic corner in the city and you can make the track program even stronger. You add on-campus parking. You bring tons of students to campus each May and you get a new football stadium.

Ding. Dang. Done.

Max Kandinsky 10 years, 1 month ago

Nice ideas, but not sure there's enough hotels to host the HS state track meet in Lawrence (plus there would be a lot of resistance on moving it away from the centralized location) A new track might help revitalize the KU Relays again as well.

april28 10 years, 1 month ago

Hotel rooms are not an issue. Plenty between Lawrence and Topeka. Plus, KU offers lots of nice dorm rooms for teams which eliminates the problem.

Most kids would rather come to KU, at a world-class track facility than go to that dump at WSU - it's a shameful venue for the state's largest high school athletic event.

Jeff Coffman 10 years, 1 month ago

We need tons of parking for track meets?

ltownatrain 10 years, 1 month ago

For the KU relays and Big 12 Championships you do. Too many schools, competitors, volunteers and spectators coming and going all day long to not have a good amount of parking. Even at the stadium the side streets fill up fairly quickly during the relays.

Michael Pannacciulli 10 years, 1 month ago

Charlie's comments crack me up...the only thing he forgot to do was lean over to Campo and say, "hey did you grab the blueprints like I told ya to is the time!"

Look, we have a very keen and smart AD. We are lucky for that...and the man knows better than any of us how important it is to build our football program up again. A cornerstone to doing that is the stadium. I hope he leans on guys like Booth...heck even Rob Riggle (see his intro with the fight song, KU cheerleaders and the mascot by the way last night on the ESPYs?) and other heavy hitters to help defray the burden from the state. And as a former track guy, who loves the track history at KU a set up like Heyward Field in Oregon is sufficient...put it on West Campus. Anywho - I am starting to sound like Weis now. :)

Looking forward to the overhaul. In the meantime some real wins would be nice.

Laurence Cooley 10 years, 1 month ago

placing the facility on west campus is a great idea. after that, we can put the softball and soccer facilities by oliver hall then start on the football stadium.

Robert Brown 10 years, 1 month ago

I have to agree with Zenger's priorities. Living out of town, I try to make one game a year. I do think the setting of the stadium at the bottom of the hill is awesome. My stadium experience is fine but perhaps that is more nostalgic. The experience certainly doesn't come with a game at UT or A&M and it never will. On TV views of the south end zone and all of the tents and balloons on the hill just look tacky so something needs to be done there. I would argue first for making cosmetic changes instead of, say, expanding the capacity to 60,000 seats. Nothing looks worse on TV than a bunch of empty seats.

The Mangino era showed that KU could consistently get 50,000 per game, but my understanding is that tickets for some of the minor games were deeply discounted indicating that they were close to capacity and that it would be difficult to fill a bigger stadium on a consistent basis.

april28 10 years, 1 month ago

Agree completely on the hill. If we are going to fill it with tents, then let's make sure that they are crimson and blue and painted with Jayhawks.

Jason Spangler 10 years, 1 month ago

WTF? This can't seriously be about track and field... Move that ish over to Free State High School and be done with it.

Bville Hawk 10 years, 1 month ago

How about moving Track and Field to Haskell stadium? Already has lights and seating for 7000. KUAC pays to install a new track around their football field and signs a 50 year lease to use the track and stadium for track purposes for some nominal amount in return for building the new track.

Andy Tweedy 10 years, 1 month ago

Nebraska's Memorial Stadium is almost the same age. Underneath the seats you can really tell, but when you are actually in the stadium, it is just plain awesome! And it used to have a track that you can still see underneath the lower seats. We don't have to demo the stadium and rebuild, the setting couldn't be better and there is plenty to like already. It was truly a dump when I was in school 20 years ago, it has at least improved. But the things that Weiss mentioned really do have to change. But I agree with HouTexHawk that we should worry first about making the experience better for 50K+ fans before we worry about making it better for 70K+ fans. I never hear mention of raising the north endzone seats up and out. Maybe that could add some seat but still be able to keep the south end open.

Jeff Suther 10 years, 1 month ago

Dont we have to win games consistantly and make money before work is done on the stadium? Dont hold your breath people

actorman 10 years, 1 month ago

It's kind of a "chicken and egg" question, isn't it? If the stadium is improved, that will help with recruiting, which will help win games.

Jim Pendleton 10 years, 1 month ago

I have been on the tear down the existing stadium and build a new one on the same site for many years. Yes I know the biggest question for this is how do we pay for it? Several options will no doubt have to be looked at. However, at KU we need to be proactive on this, and we all have to find a way to make this happen.

The other question of course is where do we play if the existing stadium is torn down? I know that many people have not liked the idea of games played at Arrowhead. However, I think in this case if everyone knows we are going to build a new state of the art stadium on the existing site, that most people would go along with playing there for a couple years while a new one is built. Majority of the crowd is coming from KC anyway, for others it is only a little further drive, and frankly it's the only realistic place to play under the circumstances. Yes it would be tough to be away from Lawrence on game day, but for what we have to look forward to in the future, it would be worth doing for a couple years.

What should the new stadium be? Obviously needs plenty of suites, most new stadiums college or pro has this. Concourses should be much improved in a new stadium, and concessions and restrooms should be much better as well.

Size, don't think we need to go crazy and have 90-100K seats, but I do think we need to get upwards of at least 65-70K. Yes I know we don't always fill what we have now, and the product on the field needs to be better, but I do think more people will come to a newer nicer place. Frankly we need to have more people at the games, and a newer modernized stadium will be a part of the solution.

Let's find a way to make this happen. I think most of Jayhawk Nation would be excited about this opportunity, and would bring a new level of commitment and enthusiasm to Jayhawk football for years to come. Rock Chalk!!

Tim Orel 10 years, 1 month ago

Major problem with moving to KC for a year or two is all the business that Lawrence would lose. Literally, it would be a few million dollars from Lawrence's income from all the restaurants, shops and hotels. That was a hit that KU agreed to for just one game a year, and all of the games would be a huge hit.

ltownatrain 10 years, 1 month ago

Not to mention that if KU did decide to build a new stadium they would no doubt ask for some sort of 1/2 cent tax increase like many others have done, which, would mean businesses would really be up in arms because not only would their products be taxed more but they would lose business on game day. I disagree about building a new stadium. I live in Lincoln now and the Huskers current stadium is really nice and only 1 year younger that Memorial at KU so this whole demolish and build new nonsense is silly with renovations any old stadium can be made to look really nice.

KansasRedLegger 10 years, 1 month ago

I doubt that local sales taxes would be raised to pay for any renovations to Memorial; neither KU nor the KUAD have any power to tax as far as I know.

As for the actual renovations: we can expect groundbreaking in twenty to twenty-five years. That is my best guess for when the city will have built the track facility.

I guess I should be happy we are even reading an article about renovations to Memorial, as that is a seeming step forward (though I suspect Zenger and Weis commented only because Tait and other reporters asked the question). There responses are sad - yet completely predictable; it just sucks that while K-State and MU announce high-dollar stadium upgrades, we are told to wait. Maybe the basketball team needed some kind of multi-million dollar karaoke machine or Allen Fieldhouse needed 32" HDTVs for every bathroom stall. All the while the football team falls farther behind and the stadium further deteriorates.

ltownatrain 10 years, 1 month ago

I was actually replying to Jayhawkjim who said to tear it down and yes if they tore it down they would likely ask for a sales tax increase. Trust me if you do some research it is not unheard of for colleges and universities to ask for a sales tax increase so they can fund the project, especially if it is a pricey one. I'm hoping they stay at the current memorial and just give it a serious renovation as I think this nonsense that newer is better is just plain BS when a lot of times renovations are just as nice heck Lambeau Field in Greenbay has been doing this for years and their stadium is top notch.

James Kiernan 10 years, 1 month ago

It baffles me that Track and Field is holding FOOTBALL back. Couple of ideas on here I like:

-The track, obviously. -Get rid of the chain link fence, replace with nice Wrought Iron fencing. -Get rid of the seats underneath the video board that look cheap. -Close the bowl.

All of this is a moot point if there is not a winning product on the field. Which came first, the chicken or the egg?

rockchalk_dpu 10 years, 1 month ago

Given the location of everything and the tradition of walking down the hill for graduation, I just can't see them ever closing in the bowl. That was made very clear when they built the Anderson Sports Complex and positioned the coach's office with a view over the field and made it less than 100 feet to the edge of the endzone. Too much money was spent there to just hide it under concrete to enclose the bowl.

Marcia Parsons 10 years, 1 month ago

I think Track and Field itself has lost popularity in the last 20 years or so, but there was a time back in the Dutch Longborn (sp) days when the Kansas Relays were more famous than (or at least as famous as) the Kanas basketball team. Teams came from all over the nation to participate and we had KU runners like Wes Santee and Billy Mills. There are a lot of people who don't want to let go of that. The stadium used to be full for those meets, and there is a mentality that dreams of it being that great again and needing a big stadium.

ltownatrain 10 years, 1 month ago

While I like the relays at Memorial the fact remains that if they could build a track facility similar to Oregon's set-up they would still have the ability to go big and it would still be a great experience.

Tony Bandle 10 years, 1 month ago

This is a chicken or egg you build/renovate a stadium to become a football power or do you become a football power to build/renovate a stadium.

This discussion has been going on for 30 years....and objectively looking at the economic could go on for 30 more years.

I'll put my money down that all we are going to see in the near future are cosmetic upgrades [of course anything is better than nothing] and we will be having these same discussions 10 years from now.

I hope I am wrong with all my heart...but my head says I don't think I am.

texashawk10 10 years, 1 month ago

I disagree with the Memorial Stadium issues being a chicken or the egg scenario. Zenger needs to find a place to move the track facilities to, I still think somewhere out by 6th street and K10 would the best place. Then the upgrades to the stadium need to be done regardless of how the team is performing because if Zenger waits for KU to be good for long enough to raise the money, he may never raise enough money. That's what happened with the Gridiron Club. Perkins announced it after the Orange Bowl, fundraising went well during the 2008 season and then KU fell flat on their faces during 2009 and funding fell through. Zenger needs to commit the dollars to this project and go for it no matter how good or bad the product on the field is.

Cody Riedy 10 years, 1 month ago

Zenger is right on when talking about honoring KU's history. In other words, KU is not going to win an arms race with the established national football powers. KU is in a tiny state population-wise and it has to split this fan base with another division 1 football program 60 miles away. I'm not sure KU could ever fill a 70,000+ capacity stadium; 60,000 would be more than sufficient in the near and probably far future. What we should focus on is "distinction," that is, making Memorial Stadium a high-quality stadium (improving seating, concessions, etc) with a distinct character (e.g. maintaining in some form the Campanile view) and then consistently packing that stadium with engaged fans.

Ron Prichard 10 years, 1 month ago

I like your ideas for the open end of the stadium. With a little vision, we could have a great blend of the old and the new and a fantastic stadium as the result.

Randy Bombardier 10 years, 1 month ago

Great post. I think expanding the Memorial theme to include Vets and KIA's from every war. If we listed every fallen Kansan since WWI that would be awesome. Invite every affected family to attend the dedication. Historic preservation is class. Razing and building to the current tastes is fruitless, 30 years later it is out-of-date and everyone is calling for a remodel.

bjejayhawk69 10 years, 1 month ago

Renovation is evidently needed but there has to be priority.

  1. get rid of the track - which means 1st building a track facility - appeal to all former track athletes and any sponsors of the KU relays. Donated money is better than raising ticket prices in other sports.

  2. One unique feature of Memorial is the hill. It would be nice to keep a sliver open to not only see the hill but let the game be seen from the hill.

  3. Close in the southeast side of the stadium and possibly the south end zone but low enough that is doesn't block the hill. Lowering the field would help with this. Move the scoreboard to the north end on the top. It would be out of the way and not blocking any thing.

  4. Lawrence obviously has a ton of limestone available. Just look at the Oread hotel and the 2 high schools. Use it on the open faces of the stadium and in a renovation. Use it for walls etc. If they could construct the Oread of complete limestone using on Memorial should not be a big deal.

  5. Grid Iron club should be last - do it only if you know those suites are going to be filled. It has potential to make money but also has potential to be a big bust as well.

  6. Better seating - actual seats with arm rests would be nice vs. metal bleacher seats. Do it with some kind of seat license thing. Charge it with season tickets with a seat guarantee for a certain number of years.

  7. Somebody mentioned the players needing some kind of pre game tradition. How about a statue of Sayers or Riggins to rub when you enter and take the field.

I really think keeping the hill view and added some limestone and/or iron gating and removing the track would give a cool intimate feel.

Main thing is keeping with what is unique to Memorial - the hill view for one.

Todd 10 years, 1 month ago

While it hasn't had time to take hold as a tradition, there is a Jayhawk statue right outside of the Anderson complex that they all touch when they come out to run into the stadium.

GoHawks1 10 years, 1 month ago

I am glad the athletic director is being methodical when talking about his plans to upgrade Memorial Stadium. The fact is that Memorial Stadium is used by the public 7-8 times a YEAR, which is not counting the relays since they are inevitably going to be moved. Whatever upgrades are done to the stadium we definitely need to make sure we get the most bang for our buck.

We aren't losing recruits because the stadium. We lose recruits because our football program is below par. What needs to be upgraded is the product that plays in the stadium. Sinking the field, blowing out the track, and building new suites will do very little to upgrade our football team. The football program needs to get on track then we need to pull the trigger on the upgrades to the stadium.

machinegun 10 years, 1 month ago

Clean up the stadium and do the simple things right now!

KGphoto 10 years, 1 month ago

I like this a lot.

The sidelines cutting into/under the stands with columns and the "Kansas" on one side would be a very cool and unique feature, and I think it blends new and old very nicely. The only thing I would ask to be altered on this one is to somehow blend the end of the horseshoe down into the end zone seating, creating a more fluid shape and added noise from that end.

Anyone have any other proposals that I can view?

Darrell Alexander 10 years, 1 month ago

I like that also except for the north bowl. That side needs squared off and brought closer to the field. Those seats are just way too far from the action.

KGphoto 10 years, 1 month ago

That would be good. I like it. I wouldn't even mind putting one of those overhangs around everything but the south end. Like this.

Complete with blue seating.

farnamjayhawk 10 years, 1 month ago

Looks great. Pull the seating in the north bowl closer

actorman 10 years, 1 month ago

Very nice! I especially like the "Rock" and "Chalk" on each end.

Wisconsin2Kansas 10 years, 1 month ago

Nice idea. But I think we should look at adding more seats.

Pitthawk34 10 years, 1 month ago

I dont like that at all. the U needs squared off and on the west side need suites to maximize money like the past proposal...that fell off the table. We had better do it right. Suites would also be nice where the bowl is squared off. We had better get it right and not go too cheap. Football is what sells our souls if realignment ever pops is ugly head. Anything less than a 130 mil renovation would be a shame. Something tells me the money is coming big time or Zenger would not have brought this up.

Kirk 10 years, 1 month ago

Gives me a minor league baseball vibe. I'm not loving it.

JayhawkinNE 10 years, 1 month ago

Call me a traditionalist, but I'd like to open up the South end.....remove the seating, take down the scoreboard.... We use to have one of the most beautiful views in the country! If you want to expand, go higher or remove the track and lower the field.

KansasRedLegger 10 years, 1 month ago

Agree 100%. I understand why the AD put the scoreboard smack dab in the middle of the view of the Hill, but during any renovations it should be moved atop whatever edifice they put on the north side, to restore the view of the Hill and one of the best settings for a college football stadium.

Todd 10 years, 1 month ago

I would agree on the surface, but the whole point of putting the scoreboard in the south end was so people would need to buy a ticket and you wouldn't have 1000+ sitting on the hill for free.

Kansas1241 10 years, 1 month ago

Yeah it might be cool if we were a D-3 school who wanted to become an even bigger laughing stock in the college football world. This is football...the last thing a real football team cares about is the "view". I think we can all agree, we'd rather go 13-0 with no view at all than go 2-10 with one of the "most beautiful views in the country!" That's pathetic.

James Kiernan 10 years, 1 month ago

While I can appreciate you wanting to incorporate the scenery of campus into the stadium, we have to be real. If the last 2 summers have taught Kansas anything its how important football should be- revenues, wins, national perception, revenues, bowl appearances, facilities, revenues. Track has to go first (not wait to build new track), field lowered. By leaving the South side open KU is enabling people to not go into the game. This has to be a culture change around this program and fanbase. My attitude towards it is hit it head on and to quote my favorite show "storm that beach like its F***king Normandy!"

jayhawk1109 10 years, 1 month ago

Somewhere along the line, seats need to be updated and players need some kind of tunnel to run through.
Sometime soon, they should take the track out, dig down and add seats there. Put the track by AFH where old practice field was and put a new soccer field in the middle, putting lights in there. Knock out more than one problem at once.

Todd 10 years, 1 month ago

I agree there should be something better than currently constructed in regards to the players running into the stadium, but as currently constituted it would have to be non-permanent. There is a large sidewalk that is used by many fans to get into the stadium if they had to travel from the opposite side. Either a bridge over the tunnel or some other way around would have to be made as well.

farnamjayhawk 10 years, 1 month ago

Conference realignment has shown us how football drives everything and yet we are letting Track & Field determine these decisions??? Upgrade the stadium and let the track team run around the block

Kansas1241 10 years, 1 month ago

Get rid of that damn track!! This is supposed to be a Division 1 college football stadium not some multi-sport arena that hosts events year round. Last time I checked there are plenty of other "tracks" throughout Lawrence people can run on. It's hard enough trying to create noise to distract the opposing team when an entire endzone is wide open, but being so far away from the field because of that pointless track makes it damn near impossible! The stadium itself was a good representation of that idiot Turner Gill's 2-10 record and until that track is gone, Memorial Stadium will have a hard time becoming a "tough place to play".

Todd 10 years, 1 month ago

I have questions for some of the foolish comments on here.
- For those that complain about the view from the north end...Have you actually sat there? I have not so I have no opinion on the matter but honestly I wonder how many actually have on here and aren't just whining about something

  • For those that want the track just ripped out...Are you an engineering major? While I freely admit that I don't know about such things, I've heard several people say the water table may be too close to the stadium already to dig it out. Even if it is not, being at the bottom of a hill and then digging further may cause a drainage nightmare. These are the extra costs that people probably don't consider.

  • For those that just want a new stadium built...where would you put it? For all the people that dislike the campus location and want more parking/tailgating etc, I've heard just as many people complain about places like Arrowhead (which has ample parking) because it's not downtown or near anything of interest. Memorial is in a beautiful setting and it would be a shame to just build some monstrosity that would be an eyesore just for the sake of having some HDTV's.

Give the dept. some time. I think Zenger has shown he has the willingness and the drive to make Kansas athletics what it needs to be.

ltownatrain 10 years, 1 month ago

Thank You! There is no place inside Lawrence for a new stadium (at least no where that wouldn't be a nightmare for traffic).

Phoghorn 10 years, 1 month ago

Keep the track! Keep the Kansas Relays in the stadium!

James Kiernan 10 years, 1 month ago

You need to get with it. Times are changing.

Phoghorn 10 years, 1 month ago

I am with the times. I just got tickets to see Frosty Cox as the Colorado Buffaloes take on Phog Allen and the Jayhawks tonight. Please don't accuse me of living in the past.

Randy Bombardier 10 years, 1 month ago

Yeah, I don't quite get all the track hate. 50-70 years from now there is going to be a trend, building stadiums on college campuses for multi-use built around an Olympic Village. I say get more track and field events there, tractor pulls, mud runs and anything that gets people in the stadium and onto the campus, where the University sells itself. If we invest tons of money to create a football-only venue that would be at a huge cost.

I like the idea of keeping the view but I have to wonder if watching the view from the hill is really a spot for people to leave the game early. Does it help create the exodus? If it helps fill the stadium by removing the view while creating more seating it would be a tough call.

Benjamin Piehler 10 years, 1 month ago

I understand that our stadium is the oldest West of the Mississippi (kind of a strange statistic, in my eyes.) If we were USC or some other elite program that consistently won, Memorial would be venerated the same way that Allen Fieldhouse or Cameron are for basketball. College sports place a huge emphasis on tradition, and they should. However, the KU football program isn't exactly stellar. Memorial will never be regarded as a Mecca of football tradition like Notre Dame or Michigans stadiums are. I'd be just fine if they rebuilt the whole thing. I'd prefer a modernization that compliments the history of Memorial, but if they come up with a really great blueprint for a shiny new stadium, I'd be just as stoked.

bjejayhawk69 10 years, 1 month ago

No major college team builds a new stadium unless they don't have a current one. Minnesota built one cause they played off campus in a dome and I think UConn built one when they went to the Big East. College football is all about tradition and even though our football tradition isn't great it is still the oldest west of the Mississippi. The setting is great with the hill. Many stadiums sit out in the open away from campus (look at KSU). The hill setting is unique and should be incorporated. Move the score board to the north up top and close in the south end with the hill view still intact and lower the field. I just saw Arkansas' stadium and theirs in dug into the a hill with a high open corner end.

texashawk10 10 years, 1 month ago

Baylor is building a brand new stadium right now and they don't share their current stadium with anyone else. Of course, it's being financed by a single person which what KU would need to have happen if they were to ever build a new stadium.

741hawk 10 years, 1 month ago

And Washington tore down their stadium (w/ a track) and is building anew on the same site (w/o a track)! Cost: $250 million.

HAWKS1 10 years, 1 month ago

I may be wrong, but it seems to me if you lower the field there will be no more viewing of the games from the hill anyway. I haven't watched a game from up there for 40 years but as I recall, the field view is very minimal as it is without lowering the stadium further. The field, I would think, would sink out of view. Unless, of course, you are also going to dig out additional ground to "extend the hill" down to the new field level.

The first priority should be improving the quality of the program on the field. The stadium additions/ improvements will follow when success is dramatic and sustained.

Also, I have not been to KSU's stadium for probably 20 years, but I can't believe that cheap, piece of crap whole in the ground stadium in the middle of a pasture is more impressive to a recruit than Memorial and the Anderson Football Complex, practice fields etc. at good old KU.


bjejayhawk69 10 years, 1 month ago

People have been talking about this for awhile now and the article is bringing it to light. The hill isn't so much for viewing the game from it makes the setting of the game better and unique. Now some of the best games I ever went to where viewed from the hill when the KU KSU game was sold out and KU won. Kicking empty party balls down the hill was awesome.

A better product on the field makes a huge difference but you have to have that no matter what the stadium but as far as the stadium itself KU needs to keep up. Don't go crazy but keep up with rest of the Big 12. This isn't the old Big 8 when status quo was OK. Recruits look at everything and facilities is up there along with coaching staff, recent success and then tradition. Most 18 year olds want to go somewhere they can play, be competitive and be surrounded by nice up to date facilities. It does matter in their eyes and their parents eyes.

texashawk10 10 years, 1 month ago

A new stadium for football at this point is nothing more than a pipe dream. It would take one of the wealthiest alums spending his own money to make that happen and one KU alum who would be capable of this, Phil Anschutz, does not have interest in doing so at this time. There's all kinds of conflicting evidence about whether or not the field can be lowered. People have posted very credible looking evidence on each side so I don't know whether or not that's possible. First off, my personal preferences would to put some limestone around the columns outside the stadium for aesthetics. I would put temporary bleachers up in the south end of the stadium that could be removed for graduation ceremonies. I would also put up a limestone wall where the chain link fence is to make that end of the stadium look better on TV. I don't think squaring off the north end seats is a very feasible goal without doing way more renovations than what can be afforded right now. What I would do regardless of being able to lower the field is to move the field deeper into the bowl and if the field can be lowered, that'd be great because you could get the fans right on top of the action. If not, there's at least more crowd noise because the field is a little bit closer to the stands. Just my $.02 on the issue.

KGphoto 10 years, 1 month ago

If you move the field, wouldn't you have to move the press box too? Seems like that would be a little awkward being off center.

troutsee 10 years, 1 month ago

Keep the Memorial Stadium

Close the South end.

Take out the track

Robert Brown 10 years, 1 month ago

At the end of the day, a better stadium does not mean a better team and the quality of the stadium has little to do with the performance on the field. Performance on the field will drive stadium improvements. KU was heading in that direction at the end of Mangino era, but as performance waned, fund raising dried up.

It is tougher today to reach the level of Mangino's teams. I'm not talking about the 12-1 season. I'm talking about the other bowl seasons where the team won 6 or 7 regular season games. There is no break in the conference schedule and because the conference schedule is now nine games, there is one less opportunty for an easy win against a weak non-conference opponent.

texashawk10 10 years, 1 month ago

That is the complete opposite strategy KU needs to take. KU needs to make the renovations regardless of the on-field performance. KU doesn't have the track record to wait for the team to improve then commit to a project. That is why the Gridiron Club failed. Zenger needs to commit now to upgrading all aspects of the athletic department, including Memorial Stadium, which it sounds like he is doing.

Spencer Goff 10 years, 1 month ago

Zenger is my guy. Here is why:

Our athletic department has been on the upswing since the day this guy got to Lawrence. I understand the doubt and uncertainty at the early stages... However... It is time for the detractors to pony up and say, "OK, we were wrong, let's see what this guy can continue to do."

Zenger took over this job at one of the most uncertain points in college athletics history, he had a boss that was new to her job, a football program in utter dismay, and a basketball coach that most people were worried might be forced to leave as we lined up to play in the MVC.

This guy gets it, he understands Kansas Athletics, and I think within the next decade we will be building a better football stadium as our guys go bowling. Sure, next season will be tough for Charlie and the Chalk-a-lot Factory, this conference is rough. But you can rest assured that there are better days ahead, and Zenger deserves a lot of credit for making that happen.

rockchalk_dpu 10 years, 1 month ago

I've tried to keep up with the postings through the day because this is an interesting topic generating a lot of great discussion. I come down on the side of retrofitting the stadium in the way that we improved parts of the Fieldhouse without altering the main component of the gym itself. I think a great example for this sort of project would be to talk with the guys who did the Michigan stadium a few years back. I've attached the link below, and it sounds like a lot of what they did was take what they had and brought it up to speed rather than starting from scratch.

Now I know that Memorial Stadium is not on equal footing in terms of national prestige with the Big House, but I do think that given the right team of architects and engineers who understand KU and the campus, we could come up with something that looks great and new while still retaining parts of the history and the overall experience of a KU game (tailgating on the hill, etc.) I've finally come around to the idea that lowering the field is in the best interest of the program, but I also think that it could be cool to somehow have the design tie into the Fieldhouse like Bankers Life (formerly Conseco) Fieldhouse and Lucas Oil Stadium do in Indianapolis to give a unified look of their sports teams. Perhaps upgrading with a limestone facade throughout including covering the ugly guts that are exposed on the sides along with a red metal overhang of some of the seats like KGphoto suggested in his post. Think of how cool it would be to have limestone covering the entire stadium with big iron gates for fans to pass through into the lower concourse and banners hanging along the ceiling for bowl teams and players.

I think what I come back to time and again is not a desire to start over from scratch, but to use this as an opportunity rebrand the stadium and the football team (provided they step up performance) by making slight but substantial changes that will totally improve the look and feel of the stadium and improve the gameday experience for fans.

Here is the link to the Michigan project if anyone is interested.

Pitthawk34 10 years, 1 month ago

Those who believe that a new stadium is really on the table are out of touch with reality. They just have a 35 million addition to stadium. A new stadium minimum bid for anything decent would cost 275 mil. Half that would make memorial something we could be proud of years to come.

Jace FitzGibbon 10 years, 1 month ago

something needs to be done. when i was at ku it felt like a high school game. with the bleachers and the way the stadium is made. it doesnt feel like big time college athletics...

kellerman411 10 years, 1 month ago

We're not ready for a new stadium. If we did it now, the University would only be able to justify a slightly bigger and better stadium, maybe not even bigger. If we wait until Charlie locks in 2-3 good seasons and maybe gets us into another high visibility bowl, the university will be able to justify a much larger and better stadium than we would have had.

I'm sick of the stadium as it is but Mangino proved you could win at the highest level there so it's not an excuse.

Yes, we all know a better stadium means better recruits yada yada yada. The fact is, if we can't compete with what we have, we shouldn't waste money on a new house to get the same old butt kicking.

kellerman411 10 years, 1 month ago

Shawn Zenger was hired to make logical and rational decisions in the best interest of KU's athletic department. After reading some of the posts on this board tonight, you all are dang lucky you have an AD like Zenger who is looking for the best long-term solution to this problem.

You can spell it out with bullet points or make designs with your 8th grade CAD software and make it look easy but that is far from the truth. Lowering the field changes a lot of things not just angles. Things like drainage will probably need to be redesigned and installed depending on how far the field goes down. From what you guys want to do, the field is going to have to go down better than 8 - 10 feet! If you want to maintain the current angle of seating and build seats all the way across the track, that would be a very large project in itself.

Financially, I've always been conservative but heck if the University has this kind of money to throw away, let's do it but I mean look at all the money they had to come up with to pay off the cancer that was here for 2 years (I know it was "boosters") and now what they are paying CW and his staff. Let's look at that number and then quantify the overall committment Lawrence has shown to its football program over the last decade and lets look at what kind of risk the University is already taking.

Lets put 2 years on paper with CW and look at wins and attendance. Then, if it looks like we're ready, lets do it.

troutsee 10 years, 1 month ago

Keep and renovate Memorial Stadium

Take out the track

Enclose the south end and stop the romance with the "hill."

shelleysue 10 years, 1 month ago

My feelings for Zenger just went up a thousand notches. THANK YOU for wanting to honor rich history and tradition. I agree that upgrades are in order but I am relieved the plans are heading in the right direction. The track. I can think of about 100 things worth complaining more than that. I will be glad to see it go so I no longer have to read about it. FANS. That's what makes game day great. Do you think the players care if there is a track on the field as long as they get unwavering fan support? I'm guessing no. Quit complaining about the track and try staying past half time. And maybe make some noise during the game instead of texting constantly. And quit yelling at the people who are actually cheering to sit down because you want to ... well I'm not even sure why you're at the game. And don't boo the visiting team let alone your home players. OK, if it's Missouri I say you do whatever you want. Work on being a better fan and quit complaining about what you can't change. Support the program and celebrate and appreciate all the victories whether it's a great play, a win, or long awaited stadium upgrades.

Jim Pendleton 10 years, 1 month ago

Great comments by everyone on this subject. Obviously there are many options that can and should be considered. A couple more thoughts after yesterday's posts, plus piggybacking on some others.

1- We cannot wait on this just to see if we are going to get better on the field in the next year or two. We must be proactive on this. We need to have better facilities, which in my mind includes building a new stadium on the current one's site. We can have a 65-70K seat stadium without totally enclosing the south end. There are stadiums of this size and bigger, who do have open or partially open ends.

2- Seen several comments on moving scoreboard to north stands. This is something we don't want. An auxilary board up there is fine, but if you have been to any other places such as Manhattan, Columbia, Ames, etc that have or had scoreboards on that end, they are extremely difficult to see during a day game.

3- I had forgotten about U Wash tearing down their stadium and building on the existing site. They are helped by having a NFL stadium in the same town. I realize Arrowhead is a little further away, but if this option is pursued, their aren't other viable alternatives. I don't like the ideas of Lawrence merchants losing business either, but if people want to keep a new stadium where it is now, this is the price that will have to be paid.

4- Renovation to current place? Not real interested in that. Concourses only slightly better, doesn't take long for restrooms to get real messy, and won't help the seating much. Won't be much opportunity to add more seats without closing in the south end.

Let's keep this topic going. Whatever happens is something that everyone is going to have to live with for many years. Think we all agree it needs to be an improvement to what we have now. Rock Chalk!!

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