Fire safety modifications to Allen Fieldhouse may bring about additional seating for KU basketball fans.
Kansas University was a big winner Thursday in bidding among contractors competing for the Allen Fieldhouse renovation project.
Five companies turned in bids within the $1.5 million budget. The lowest was $1.2 million by C.W. Luebbert of Blue Springs, Mo.
Allen Wiechert, KU architect for capital programs, said today that the university could use part of the windfall to pay for modification of field house seating.
"We'll probably gain some seats," he said. "We originally thought we were going to have to eliminate some."
The goal of the project is to reduce fire hazards in the building, which was dedicated in 1955 and seats 15,800 for men's and women's basketball.
In 1992, state fire inspectors said Allen had "one of the most significant life-loss potentials in Kansas when fully occupied."
Wiechert said a sprinkler system, internal stairwells and exits will be installed to satisfy fire codes.
Fans in the four upper corners of the fieldhouse will use new stairways leading to the level below.
Exits will be added in fieldhouse's southwest and northwest corners.
"We also will create a definite pathway down out of the seating areas to the floor of the arena," Wiechert said.
The game plan is to finish before the Jayhawks' first home game Nov. 10.
"They whole general appearance inside will not change," Wiechert said. "Some people ... may find seats that weren't there before and find some seats are gone."
Although the fieldhouse may be the darkest Big Eight arena, there won't be an improvement in the building's lighting within this project, Wiechert said.