Sewage from a renovated Memorial Stadium will have more room to run with new pipes in place by September 1999.
By the time new toilets and urinals are ready for flushing at Memorial Stadium, the city plans to have nearly $2 million in new sewer lines primed to handle the load.
The new pipes will be large enough to handle an anticipated 860,000 gallons of sewage -- enough for nearly 600 toilet flushes per minute -- flowing from the stadium by the 1999 Kansas University football season.
"You can't ignore it," City Manager Mike Wildgen said. "It's underground, and you can't see it, but everybody expects it to work. You can't have that (sewage) coming back at you."
Wednesday morning, Lawrence city commissioners reconfirmed the city's ongoing plans to upgrade sewer lines north of the stadium. The search for a project engineer will start today, with construction expected to start next summer and be finished by September 1999.
Why the rush?
KU has started its $26 million renovation of Memorial Stadium, expected to be finished in time for the 1999 football season. If all goes as planned, the stadium will include a new press box, 36 luxury boxes and -- most important to city officials -- 50 drinking fountains, 55 hand sinks, 48 showers and 490 new toilet fixtures.
Female fans can look forward to 152 toilets next year, nearly two-and-a-half times the 62 currently available on the stadium's lower concourse.
The plumbing upgrades top the list of KU's efforts to rejuvenate the country's oldest on-campus stadium west of the Mississippi River, said Pat Warren, an assistant athletics director. Fans will pay $6 surcharges on all football and basketball tickets for the next 15 years to help pick up the tab, which also covers $3.5 million of work at Allen Fieldhouse.
"If there aren't clean, nice facilities to use the restroom, a lot of other things aren't as enjoyable," Warren said.
Even before KU announced its renovation plans two years ago, city officials had plans for new off-campus pipes north and west of the stadium. The area's pipes already were too small.
"Relief was needed," Commissioner Bob Moody said. "This just exacerbated it."
The stadium project eventually prompted officials to plan for larger pipes and move the work up on their priority list, said Roger Coffey, the city's utilities director. Total estimated cost for the stadium-related pipes: $1.86 million, to be absorbed by all Lawrence sewer customers through their monthly utility bills.
Steve Phillips, the city's lead consultant for sewer issues, told commissioners that the pipes needed to be large enough to handle sewage generated during halftime of a KU homecoming game, and more. Sewage can cause problems if not given enough room to run.
"If the pipe can't carry it away, it's going to seek a route out," said Phillips, a partner for Black & Veatch, of Kansas City, Mo. "And that can be ... in a house basement."
The pipes are anticipated to run along Alabama Street north of the stadium to Ninth Street, then go east to Connecticut, north to Eighth and then east to pipes near the railroad tracks.