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Friday, October 7, 2022

First phases of construction on comprehensive football facility upgrade at the University of Kansas expected to begin in early 2023

The view of David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium's west stands from the newly revamped Touchdown Club in the stadium's south end zone.

The view of David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium's west stands from the newly revamped Touchdown Club in the stadium's south end zone.

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The University of Kansas has committed to a comprehensive football facility overhaul, with construction set to begin in 2023, the school announced Friday morning.

The plan did not include a specific timeline or a dollar amount for the cost of the project, which KU Athletic Director Travis Goff said would be “unmatched in its vision to benefit a broad range of KU constituents while signaling a new era for Kansas football.

“Once complete, this project will ensure our football program has the facilities it needs to compete at the highest level and provide the best-possible game day experience for student-athletes and fans,” Goff added in a Friday news release announcing the project.

KU has consistently kept stadium renovations in its official five-year capital improvement plan, which is approved each year by the Kansas Board of Regents. The current plan, which was approved this summer, includes $350 million worth of projects for KU’s football stadium.

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Kansas waits to receive a kickoff from Iowa State in front of a sell out crowd on Saturday, Oct. 1, 2022 at Memorial Stadium.

Similarly, in mid-September, KU Chancellor Douglas Girod told the Journal-World’s Chad Lawhorn that a “gateway” project connected to KU’s football stadium could cost more than $300 million and would be “a very big project.”

The potential for movement on a project of this nature has been in the works for years.

However, past attempts to look to the future and plan for upgrades and renovations to David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium and facilities around it were always based on renderings and plans that were released before any work was scheduled to be done.

None of those plans ever reached the point of execution, and that’s what makes this news so significant.

KU will have shovels in the ground early next year, and a source with knowledge of KU’s plans told the Journal-World that some of the general prep work could begin as soon as the Jayhawks are finished playing football this fall.

“It’s not a vision; it’s done,” the source said. “They’re doing this.”

The grand plan will include renovations to both Memorial Stadium and the Anderson Family Football Complex, and the first major sign of progress will show up through changes to the Anderson Complex.

KU has hired HNTB, of Kansas City, as the lead architect of the massive project. That decision was reached Wednesday.

HNTB will work closely with Lawrence-based design firm Multistudio and Nations Group, a national firm specializing in university athletics venues and mixed-use facilities. Together they will move forward with developing more specific plans, timelines and cost estimates.

Additional planning, in the form of meetings and conversations with KU officials, including head football coach Lance Leipold, could begin as soon as this month.

“This project will have a profound impact on the future of Kansas Football and the entire community,” Leipold said in Friday’s release. “It will specifically impact our current and future football players, who will now have a state-of-the-art facility to train in. With an up-to-date facility and a commitment to improve Anderson Family Football Complex, our day-to-day operation will be more efficient and effective. This is an exciting time for Kansas Football, and this certainly adds to it.”

One of the biggest elements of the project that is now being called a “north gateway to campus” at the intersection of 11th and Mississippi streets is KU’s desire to build something that provides more than just a home for the Kansas football program.

In Friday’s release, Girod called the intersection “the ideal location” for the project that he said will serve a variety of groups — students, alumni, campus guests, etc. — drive economic growth in the region and “reimagine” KU’s football facilities.

The Journal-World reported last month that KU officials in their request for proposals from design firms were seeking “a multi-purpose year-round venue which may incorporate conference or entertainment capabilities, retail, dining, health care services, or other facilities that support economic development and the university’s academic mission.”

The multi-use aspect of the construction and renovation plans remains a key part of the project and figures to play a big role in getting it done.

The source also indicated that KU will be willing to provide more details about the scope of the project — size, specifics and cost chief among them — as things move along and that a timeline for completion of both the total project and specific phases could be included in future updates.

Friday’s announcement coincides with the KU football program’s 5-0 start, No. 19 national ranking and debut as a host of ESPN’s College Gameday football preview show.

All of those factors provide a program that has been desperate for momentum and relevance for more than a decade the opportunity to show the college football world that they’re ready to make a concrete and significant commitment to football.

“Now, more than ever, college athletics – and certainly sustained success in the sport of football – are critical to the health and vibrancy of our entire university community,” Goff said. “There is tremendous excitement for this project among donors and partners who believe in KU’s mission.”

Comments

David Robinett 1 month, 2 weeks ago

Great news all around - including the selection of local firms to execute the work!

Priest Fontaine 1 month, 2 weeks ago

Curious if any renderings are available? Glad it will be in the same location.

https://rebuildryanfield.com/

Rodney Crain 1 month, 2 weeks ago

Comical, just comical.

Lets keep this in mind, just a few months ago, there was a survey, then some sketchy plans, debt, an rfp will be sent out. Now a plan with no rfp, with no specific dollar amount. It will start next year, even though the plan has no budget, no contractor, no list of projects, and no clue how they are going to do it.

Our wunderkind Athletic Director Travis Goff said it would be “unmatched in its vision to benefit a broad range of KU constituents while signaling a new era for Kansas football". ESPN calls it a facelift, but to be fair who knows without any details? He has no further to look for unmatched than his previous employer.

Let me restate this - Gather around while I share with you a miracle beyond miracles, our multifaceted, all encompassing, wonder to behold plan, serving every man woman and child near and far in everyway possible. There is no plan to share. But it will be unmatched and signal a new era for everyone, and the football program too. Quick get this over to gameday so we don't look like the idiots we are - TG and Geerod.

"The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, / But in ourselves." -WS Or at our school, the two brainless "leaders" running the ship.

At least Goff won't have to worry about how bad we are at NIL deals. It is En Vogue to not publish any details about how NIL deals are doing at your school now. qui qui! Corruption should stay in the shadows where it belongs.

Gary Wirsig 1 month, 2 weeks ago

I was going to say "let the belly-aching begin", but I see I'm a bit late.

Len Shaffer 1 month, 2 weeks ago

"Comical, just comical."

Yes, Rodney, you are.

Dirk Medema 1 month, 2 weeks ago

Glad Lance is involved. It reminds me of his comment to Kelly as they walked into ? after the OU loss last year and got a standing ovation. Cheering for a loss has got to change. Glad for his vision of a winning program and all the details that go into it.

Glad also for the vision to make it more than a football facility even if “we lack the competent leadership to get it done.”

Lance Hobson 1 month, 2 weeks ago

Ok yes it is weird that there are no renderings. But make it up as you go works too, just do something. And make the stadium LOUDER! I go to BSU games on the Blue with 35k fans and the place is rocking with multiple false starts by opponents. I want that for KU.

Doug Roberts 1 month, 2 weeks ago

With conference realignment still active, a 5-0 start, the hottest coach in America who seems to want to stay and finish the job, and College GameDay in town I'm sure the administration wants to get the message out that KU is ready "to do business" and strike while the iron is hotter than ever. Good for them.

I'd rather they not rush out renderings and do it right.

Brian Wilson 1 month, 2 weeks ago

Seems I read the article three years ago. I could be wrong but what I recall is that the stadium portion of the renovations was only about 20% or $50 million of the cost and that the stadium stands pretty much like it is. Mostly it was about changing the color scheme around (oh boy!) putting in seats instead of bleachers, some concessions, Some fancier VIP boxes for the elite all while adding internet, etc.,....so the stadium basically get a paint job, some PVC boards and a modem!

Dirk Medema 1 month, 2 weeks ago

Lance - There was an article or a really in depth comment a decade ago about the angle of the stands. Memorial stadium is really flat; 21 degrees(?). By contrast, other stadiums are high 20’s. Not sure what the Phog is but is part of what makes it so loud. It reduces the amount of air needed to be moved, as well as the distance between the source and the action, and allows less sound to escape. In the case of the Phog, there’s also fewer impediments like seatbacks and such to disrupt the air movement. It would be great to pull everything in closer; a smaller footprint is a side benefit of the increased angle leaving more land outside the stadium for other development.

Brian - There have been lots of articles over the years about different possibilities. Everything from the AD seems to indicate a more significant project is currently envisioned. It would be disappointing if it ended up only being what you’re remembering.

Dirk Medema 1 month, 2 weeks ago

Doug - Great observation on timing. It could definitely explain the limited amount of info. I think the next definite public info date is a board of regents (?) meeting in November.

Dirk Medema 1 month, 2 weeks ago

Brian - In listening/watching Travis’ presser, he seemed to imply pretty clearly (imo) that the $$$ would be north of the $350M placeholder. Maybe it’s just the same thing that has been written in articles, but it was encouraging to listen to him. Maybe it’s the dreamer in me too realizing the potential for the site.

It was also really encouraging to hear that Lance is sending him messages 3-4 times a day with ideas for the facilities and for Travis to say that Lance gets to have as much say so as he wants. Lance is a builder. The opportunity to build a gateway facility is even greater than football and something no one else can offer.

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