Archive for Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Expansion plans

Some drawings of a proposed football structure adjacent to Memorial Stadium might help fund-raising efforts.

March 30, 2005

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The Kansas University football program appears to be on the rise under the direction of coach Mark Mangino, and hopes are high among Jayhawk fans that the team will show continued improvement in the upcoming season. Building a football program is not a "quick fix" process; it takes time, along with proper coaching and fan support.

Mangino will enter his fourth season at KU this fall, and according to reports, the 2005 team will be the strongest and deepest in recent years.

KU athletic officials are in the midst of an effort to raise $25 million to $30 million to build a football facility adjacent to Memorial Stadium. So far, about $15 million has been raised for this building, which is to include locker rooms, showers, offices, a weight room, training rooms, film rooms, and probably a lounge or meeting room in which to entertain visitors, recruits and supporters. A practice field also will be located adjacent to the structure.

Many long-time and loyal KU football fans, as well as alumni and friends of the university, are concerned about the location of this project. Original plans called for the building to be located at the south end of the stadium, which worried those who do not want anything to block the unique and beautiful vista of the university campus and the distinctive area between the memorial Campanile and the stadium.

University officials have tried to allay any fears about the building marring the open space, and the chancellor has said the football building would not disrupt the traditional commencement march of graduates down the hill and into Memorial Stadium. He also has said nothing will block the view of Campanile Hill.

This is fine, but the public still doesn't have any idea where the structure will be located, how tall it may be and if, indeed, it will not distract or damage the attractive greensward. A large building could be built at the south end of the stadium and not block the view of the campus, its skyline and much of Campanile Hill or "disrupt" the annual commencement march and still be an unattractive addition to the area.

Why don't university officials provide a drawing of what is being proposed? Why be secretive? Provide a drawing of the proposed building and location so the public and those being asked to contribute to the building fund would have a definite plan to assess. Architects can doll up their drawings to make them look quite appealing, and it's likely this would be the goal of university officials.

Where will the practice field be located and, if the field isn't carved out of the hill, how will it affect the already small parking areas adjacent to the stadium?

Those supporting the project are quick to point out other schools have similar facilities near their stadiums and it is needed as a recruiting tool. Everyone knows it is important to keep up with the Joneses.

As noted at the outset, Mangino has done a good job, and KU fans want to do what they can to help him build a strong football program. Hopefully, the proposed football building, which is likely to be named for whomever turns out to be the largest contributor, will indeed help Mangino and the football program.

Approximately $10 to $15 million remains to be raised and it would seem some drawings that show the specific location of this facility and its supporting projects would be helpful in attracting contributions. There certainly is space to the east or west of the stadium in which to develop a complex to help build an even better Jayhawk football program.

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