Friday, September 22, 2017

Memorial Stadium renovation plans unveiled; campaign bolstered by $50M pledge

Rendering of the University of Kansas football stadium, at completion of renovation project.

Rendering of the University of Kansas football stadium, at completion of renovation project.


The future of Memorial Stadium now has a vivid picture to go with it — and some of the money required to eventually carry out that vision.

Kansas Athletics on Friday unveiled renderings for large-scale improvements to the football program’s facilities, which were met with a $50 million pledge — the largest in the athletic department’s history — from KU alumnus and benefactor David Booth.

The previously announced stadium fundraising campaign, University of Kansas Chancellor Douglas Girod and athletics director Sheahon Zenger shared, now includes upgrades to other athletics facilities, as well, including a new, larger arena for the volleyball program.

The KU-branded “Raise The Chant” strategy, focused primarily on football, aims to raise $350 million over the course of five years.

Girod emphasized that modern facilities for KU football, beginning with the construction of a new indoor facility at the completion of this season, allow the university to remain a “strong member” of the Big 12 Conference and provide KU with “the best advertising we could have.”

The athletic department’s place within a Power 5 football conference, the chancellor added, is critical to not only alumni engagement but also to student recruitment.

“Higher education is a highly competitive environment, particularly when you look at what’s happening nationally, where we’ve seen decreasing students going into higher education every year since 2010 on the national front,” Girod said. “So we know that we have to have our A-game when it comes to recruiting the best and brightest students, that that competition is there, will continue to be there, and those are really the students we want to make KU their home and want to be future Jayhawks. So this is such a key part, as I said, of making sure that we are a national presence.”

Girod, who also provided a vote of confidence for both Zenger and football coach David Beaty, went as far to say KU is “playing a bit of catch-up” to its Big 12 peers on that front, because Kansas is the only football program in the league without its own indoor facility (the Jayhawks practice indoors at KU track’s Anschutz Pavilion on occasion).

Zenger said he hired Beaty in late 2014, in part, because of his ability as a recruiter, and the athletic director anticipates Beaty growing the program further with the aid of forthcoming facilities improvements.

“Young people, they come at it differently than we did years ago. They don’t want the pegs to hold their shoulder pads on anymore. They’ll go other places and see other entities that are as good or better than we are,” Zenger said of how modernized infrastructure will benefit the football program. “Quite frankly, when you talk about the indoor and some other things, these are facilities that could and maybe should’ve been done 20, 25 years ago. While we’re very proud of everything we’ve done, it’s time to turn our attention to this, and in the next three to five, to six years get done, what, 20 to 25 years worth of work.”

Stadium enhancements

Renovations to Memorial Stadium, home to Kansas football since 1921, are scheduled to begin following the 2018 season, beginning with enhancements to the south end zone and west side of the venue.

The next stage of the project, with a to-be-determined start date, will address the north end zone and east side of the stadium.

The makeover is said to include a variety of premium seating options at “all price points,” as well as enhanced fan amenities, such as suites, lounges, reserved chair-back seating, concourse viewing decks, expanded concourses and “premium concession” options.

Beaty said the unveiling of the plans made Friday “one of the coolest days in the history of KU,” and described the imminent transformation as an “absolute necessity” to show the program’s commitment to excellence.

“It’s such an exciting day for all of us. It’s something that I’ve been looking forward to personally for all Jayhawks since the day I stepped on campus here,” said Beaty, who took over a long-struggling program before the 2015 season and has a 3-24 record so far as head coach. “They deserve so much in so many different ways because of all the different things that they’ve given before. And a great fan experience is one of those things.”

New volleyball venue and more renovations

Girod and Zenger said Booth’s massive pledge wasn’t the only money coming in to open the “Raise The Chant” campaign.

They announced Stu Horejsi, a longtime KU benefactor, and his family pledged $10 million, which will allow Kansas Athletics to give the defending Big 12 champion volleyball program a new home.

The future 3,000-seat venue, to be called Horejsi Family Volleyball Arena, will replace the current 1,300-seat Horejsi Family Athletics Center.

Zenger said the razing of the old structure and construction of the new one would begin after this season.

A KU spokesperson said the goal is for the project to be completed before the start of the 2018 volleyball season. If it’s determined that won’t be possible at some point in the process, the athletics department will devise a backup plan, and neighboring Allen Fieldhouse would be an optional temporary home.

Girod and Zenger also announced “major gifts” to the overall campaign from Dana and Sue Anderson, of Lawrence, and the Mike Beatty family, of Salina.

According to Zenger, KU plans to finish renovations to Allen Fieldhouse, and the department has “conceptualizations” for doing the same with Hoglund Ballpark, home to Kansas baseball.

KU-adidas deal extended

Kansas Athletics also announced Friday an extension on its apparel rights agreement with adidas — a $191 million deal over the next 14 years.

Zenger said the contract would help KU achieve its renovation goals for both Memorial Stadium and Allen Fieldhouse.

After clarifying that he couldn’t yet share all the official details of the adidas deal, Zenger said it “tweaks” the final two years of KU’s current contract with the sports apparel company and takes the university into a new 12-year deal.


Brett McCabe 5 years ago

If David Beaty goes 1-11 this year and remains as the head coach of the program, David Booth won't be able to pay people enough money to go to the games. And it will be clear that a bunch of goofs are in charge of this program.

Girod was the wrong hire, hired by the Board of Regents of a backwards state, not by a group of Jayhawks. He's muffed his first try. Let's hope he recovers his own fumble by the end of the year.

1-11 or 2-10 is not good enough. No matter what array of excuses you compile and no matter what structure you build. You are what your record says you are.

Does Temple or USF or Memphis or Rutgers or Tulsa or CMU or Ohio or NDSU have the world's finest facilities? I'd go watch a winning football team in a pasture, and so would 50,000 other fans. Please quit making a full-time excuse tour part of your daily lives.

I'm thankful that someone like David Booth is willing to pony up the money, but this staff needs to go, go quickly, go quietly and quit listing all of the friggin' excuses.

Gavin Fritton 5 years ago


I'm not trying to pick a fight with you. Seriously. I've followed all your posts here and you are clearly a knowledgeable fan. So I am not calling you out with this, I swear.

But let's say Girod fires Zenger (I'm not taking a position on Girod as the hire because I'm not 100% certain who all the other candidates were and he's so new I'm willing to give him the benefit of the doubt). While I think Zenger has proven to be a GREAT fundraiser and administrator, so far absolutely NOTHING has shown me he is able to judge coaching talent (not only Charlie Weis but also Brandon Schneider has proven to be an abysmal failure. It is really hard for me to believe that he was unable to persuade an assistant from a major program to take the job and had to settle for a guy who has never had D-1 success). so I'm fine with the notion of firing Zenger if it makes sense to Girod.

But when it comes to firing Beaty, who do you reasonably think we could get to come in and take over? Again, not calling you out, but to me it looks like firing coaches after a bad first three seasons is just kind of built into our DNA. I know that Weis and Gill were bad hires who never should have been offered the job to begin with but it's going to be obvious to anyone who MIGHT take the gig that he is on a very short clock. David Beaty works his a$$ off and he's hired a great staff. Yes, I agree, the on-field results are not there. But who could we get that is better than him right now? I just don't see anyone willing to take it knowing that in three years he is looking for a new job unless he turns it around in a very short window.

Brett McCabe 5 years ago

Gavin, though we agree to disagree on some points, I absolutely respect the tenor and thoughtfulness of your post. Thanks for bringing it!

Greg Walter 5 years ago

Time and time again people go and attack the staff for not winning, but coaches can only do so much, we need to get better players. Coaches can't control if a pass is on target, or a defender blocks, or if a receiver can catch the ball while tip-toeing down the sideline with a defender on his back. It doesn't matter if KU went out and got the best coaches in the world tomorrow, it comes down to who is on the field.

With the past coaches it was easy to say they need to go because they weren't performing on the field and they couldn't get recruits to come to KU. Beaty is the first coach since Mangino that is able to recruit players that are competitive in the Big 12, but since then the coaches haven't and that's causing Beaty to essentially build a new football team from scratch all while competing in one of the toughest football conferences.

For once, it's time to let the program develop under one coach that is devoted to turn the program around. Give Beaty time to get his young team experience, but if he can't show signs by the time his own recruits are seniors then we all can start discussions of getting a replacement. Until then we can sit and wait a bit longer, it's not like we haven't be able to do that for the last 10 years anyway.

Bryan Mohr 5 years ago

The same comments were made when Gill and Weis were here. It's always, "Those previous guys needed to go, but let's give this guy more time because he inherited an empty cupboard". Of course, you may very well be correct. Beaty stays a couple more years and then starts winning games. But you also may be wrong. Personally, from what I've seen, I wouldn't bet my money on Beaty turning the program around. I think KU is betting on the wrong horse with Beaty. I do hope I'm wrong... want nothing more than to see KU football competitive again like it was in the Mangino years.

Barry Weiss 5 years ago

getting better players is the job of the coach. coaching them up is the job of the coach.

Gavin Fritton 5 years ago

This is gorgeous. The only thing I wish they could change (and they can't with Memorial in this location) would be to make tailgating more open and available to everyone who wants to. Dr. Zenger, if you're reading this, congratulations on the vote of confidence and also find a way to make widespread tailgating happen!

Randy Bombardier 5 years ago

After going to the Central Michigan game I have to wonder about upgrading memorial stadium. It's old and tired. I have trouble seeing it. Wouldn't it be more cost effective to just go new on the same sight? Do something exciting.

Aaron Paisley 5 years ago

This will involve tearing and rebuilding sections of the stadium. Those renderings appear to show two levels of seating which means they have to demo and rebuild the east and west sections of the stadium. This will be a total rebuild of Memorial Stadium over a 4 year period it appears starting after the 2018 season.

Brett McCabe 5 years ago

And when people wonder why there is such a high cost, this is one of the reasons. It would probably be much cheaper to knock it down and start over from a clean slate - but that's not a feasible option for the program.

Michael Leiker 5 years ago

From what I see in the drawings it looks like the upper 2/3 of the east and west stands remain the same as what we have. I'd love to hear some other thoughts on this and what other people see.

Aaron Paisley 5 years ago

That Adidas deal is huge. That will put KU 5th in terms of richest apparel deals at $13.64 million per year which is basically double the current deal. Anybody who thinks KU should go back to Nike needs to be aware that Nike doesn't pay for basketball schools. Kentucky just signed a new deal last year with Nike that pays them about $3.5 million per year. UNC has pretty much the same deal as Kentucky.

Adidas is currently the best option for Kansas because we are now the flagship school for Adidas and that is a big deal.

Bryan Mohr 5 years ago

What does the stadium rendering look like with empty seats? No particular reason for asking.

John Strayer 5 years ago

That was my thought too...does the project include mannequins dressed in KU blue?

Lance Hobson 5 years ago

I guess it doesn't involve lowering the field and moving seats closer so it really falls in the touch up category. Which would be too little, too late. I'm very skeptical about the renovations to the north and east side taking place at an unknown time in the future. That sounds like a guy who says he'll propose someday. Like never going to happen. The whole program is just sad and has been since Perkins fired Mangino.

Buck Bukaty 5 years ago

A sincere THANK YOU to the donors! Let's see, private donors are footing the bill for the renovations. Therefore, absolutely no justification for any ticket price increases!

Seems to me that such renovations should commence right away during current and upcoming seasons when attendance is so low. Few if any fans would be inconvenienced.

Jim Stauffer 5 years ago

Patience grasshoppers. We will get there. We give Beaty 5 full years. He rebuilds the roster and either wins himself or has put the program in place to take off with the new man. Plain and simple. This has us winning right in the middle of our renovation program. Perfect timing. If the struggling Royals could do it, KU can.

Brett McCabe 5 years ago

It'll be interesting to see the recruiting wunderkind do his magic if this team goes 1-11. Now that will be a trick worth watching!

You don't get 5 years just because some sports goof said that 5 years was a magic number.

To use the coach's own phrase: you have to earn it. We have one Texas commit from a guy who was hired to reel in Texas players. You can't rebuild a roster if you can't show progress on the field. Those two things are tethered.

Aaron Paisley 5 years ago

KU still has a significant scholarship deficit right now. We're still about 15 scholarship under the max and firing Beaty after this year destroys this class (we still have the two jewels from LA) and resets the clock on catching up on scholarships.

If we want any future coach to start off with a chance to compete, we need Beaty for 5 years regardless of his W-L record so he can at least eliminate the scholarship deficit if nothing else. Then you can have a new coach come in and focus on developing the players here instead of just trying to find enough players to field a program.

Dyrk Dugan 5 years ago

These additions will be wonderful; it's a promise made and kept, it says something about the current athletics leadership. For the reference above: it would NOT be cheaper to tear down and start over with a new stadium; not even close. Let's ask a real question with a real answer and see if you "fire the AD and football coach yesterday" folks can figure it out.....and this question goes to stability in the program. Name the last year KU returned the same HC, DC, OC and known starting QB? I'll give you a few panels to figure it out. :)

Brett McCabe 5 years ago

David Beaty started three quarterbacks last year and then ran off two of them and benched the third. He's on his third OC in three years. Sheahan Zenger has fired two coaches and hired two coaches with completely conflicting personalities, offensive schemes and management styles. Quit blaming the fans for instability in the program. We've never hired or fired a KU football coach.

However, I will make one statement of truth: There are a minimum of 10,000 coaches in the country who could have won 3 games in three years in charge of the program. Frankly - how could anyone really have done any worse?

Gordon Penny 5 years ago

I am of the opinion that five years might not even be enough. One thing I do know for sure is that if we expect coaches to turn around a football program in three years, we will never see success. I think we should give coach five years, at a minimum. He might need ten years. We are talking about turning around the worst program in college football history. We aren't talking about taking a team that has had a couple of losing seasons in a row and getting them back on track. The mountain is steep and the task enormous. Rome wasn't built in a day.

Dyrk Dugan 5 years ago

Who's blaming the fans? KU admin has put us in the hole, again, starting with Lew. Your solution though of firing this coach, right now, is wrong. I'm a fan too, and you, as a fan, have expressed an opinion; and I'm expressing one as well. We cannot, must not, fire this football coach at this time. The roster and state of things this coach inherited were basically unprecedented. We are 5-65 in the conference, the last 8 years; one more year, or even two, of the same pct. isn't going to hurt much. And we'll have a full roster of kids finally. Some stability. And then the evaluation can be made. But only then.

Dyrk Dugan 5 years ago

BTW, the answer is: 2009. We had MM back as HC; Bowen at D.C.; Ed Warriner at OC; and Reesing at QB. Next year we would have the first set of these circumstances, in 9 years. That says something right there.

Austin Lopez 5 years ago

I don't think anyone on this blog have a problem with Beaty getting his full 5 years, our problem, well at least my problem is with the defensive coordinator. Clint Bowen needs to be gone, Every year he puts a bad product on the field for how many years now has Kansas defensive guys been missing tackles? 4 years? Tackling is basic fundamental football!

David Friend 5 years ago

Brett is spot on. I have been saying the same thing on other post. It is foolish to think we are going anywhere. By year three the new coach should not be embarrassed by the MAC. At the year three point we should not be one of the worse if not the worse program in college football. All though our stadium is not great our training facilities are among the best in the country and that is what recruits care about. We should be better by now. Pay the money and get a proven coach. Its simple. We do it in Basketball and look at the results. Pay the salary and we will get ROI

John Brazelton 5 years ago

I willing to take on both Tom Keegan and Bret McCabe. Both of these individuals seem to have over-sized egos. I've read Bret's poison pen comments for over two years. What's your qualifications? How you ever played or coached past high school? Do you have a million dollars or more to contribute to the Athletic Department, who would then take your comments seriously. I attended KU from 1969 to 1973. I missed Pepper Rogers, Bobby Douglas and the Orange Bowl by one year. I've watched Don Fambrough build winning teams twice. I watched Glen Mason build winning teams twice (after he turned down the GA jig). Godfried also had a decent record, but moved on. Mangino took a few seasons before he went 12-1. Most of Mangino's success came after he found Reesing at QB. Winning football games when your team is at the bottom of the heap is never a straight line process. It zigs and zags. Every fan today demands immediate results. It doesn't happen that way. KU has never had a long-term winning coach. Successful coaches at KU have always moved on to greener pastures. Then the coaching process started all over again. That's KU's football problem and it's history.

Lance Hobson 5 years ago

Mason didn't turn down Georgia, he changed his mind after the wife he was cheating on was going to win custody and take him to the cleaners. Then he left shortly after he got that mess worked out with no other bowl appearances.

Max Ledom 5 years ago

STOP. WITH. THE. FIRING. TALK. We fire a coach every 3 years. Beaty is clearly, absolutely the better of Gill and Weis. We know what happens when we fire coaches every 3 years. Let’s see what happens when we don’t. Also, firing Beaty this year does nothing but set the program back more and more. And then a coach will come in and try and fix it and he won’t have enough time and we will fire him too. It’s not a good idea. It’s not a good look. Beaty is the guy. Have faith.

David A. Smith 5 years ago

I've been to all three games so far, and sat in two different sections. Both times I was one of about three fans cheering. Tired of fans spending more time typing than cheering!

Jim Keen 5 years ago

The renovations all look very nice. But, I was hoping the first step would have been to excavate about 20-30 feet of the field, build more lower level stands, and get the fans closer to the field. Replacing the bench seats with stadium-type seats would also be nice. Those benches get really hard!

Barry Weiss 5 years ago

well, I hope we don't end up with a one win season. what is Beatty 3-25? I'mm sorry, there should be SOME progress in year 3.

Curtis Martell 5 years ago

Imagine what 50 million dollars could for higher education at KU or all the educational institutions in Kansas. I know it's a free country, and Mr Booth can spend his money how he chooses. His choice is obviously not education, just the underwriting of continued entertainment for KU football fans. I'm stunned and more that a little disgusted at the status we give football.

Richard Aronoff 5 years ago

To paraphrase Charles Krauthammer's comments several years ago about the Washington baseball team, going to a KU football game is a perfectly lovely way to spend an afternoon if you have no expectation that they will win.

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