Dirt began flying and trucks rolled into the area south of Memorial Stadium on May 21, the morning after Kansas University commencement ceremonies.
And they haven't stopped yet.
Now, the outline of a major construction project is emerging. The $31 million project will include:
¢ Parking lots on the hill west of Memorial Stadium.
¢ The Anderson Family Football Complex southwest of the stadium.
¢ Two football practice fields southeast of the stadium.
Kansas Athletics Inc. has targeted July 2008 to complete the privately funded effort to consolidate the football program's operations near the stadium.
"They are telling us right now that they are right on schedule and right on budget, so we are very happy with those two things," said Brad Nachtigal, assistant athletic director for facilities and events.
By the start of the fall semester and football season, construction crews plan to be confined to working on the building and the practice fields to minimize disruptions for football fans and KU students.
"Obviously they'll notice the parking lots on the west side, and there'll still be construction south of the stadium," Nachtigal said. "But otherwise Maine Street and student parking will open back up like it was in the early spring before they started the project, so it should be business as normal."
Construction crews have finished hauling dirt and clay from the site. Most trucks coming in now are delivering supplies.
Football complex construction
At one point last week, Joseph Emmons looked up from his porch in the 1000 block of Maine Street and saw three gravel trucks backed up from 11th Street to in front of his house.
"There's also lots of dust during the day and lots of noise, but other than that, it's what you would expect," said Emmons, a retired administrator with the Kansas Board of Regents.
He has no complaints about how the construction is going. His one concern is that the extra parking spaces now on the stadium's west side will create more neighborhood traffic on game days and when full classes begin in August.
Here's an update on the four major areas of construction and how the athletic department plans for things to look:
Anderson Family Football Complex
It's an 80,000-square-foot building that will house all KU's football operations and free up space for other sports in Wagnon Student Athlete Center, which is adjacent to Allen Fieldhouse.
"One of our major goals was to make sure that this building didn't detract from the view of Campanile Hill and the commencement traditions," Nachtigal said.
KU Chancellor Robert Hemenway had promised that the building would not rise more than one story from ground level. The building's lower level will be below ground.
The building's lower level - about 50,000 square feet - will include a weight room, locker room, training facility and equipment rooms. The upper, main level of 30,000 square feet will include an auditorium and meeting rooms, student support offices and coaches' offices.
Crews are expected to begin laying the building's foundation in the next two weeks.
"As we get to fall and as we go through the football season, you will really be able to see the building rise up out of the ground, see the steel being erected and see the exterior being developed," Nachtigal said.
Once the building is finished, crews will add another parking lot and leave the rest for green space to help offset trees that were lost to construction.
"We have a landscaping budget for the project around the building and practice fields, including planting a lot of trees," Nachtigal said.
Hemenway also promised that all parking spaces in the area taken away due to construction would be replaced.
So far, west of the stadium, crews have carved two new lots in terraces into the hill to help replace 250 spaces lost on the southeast side taken for construction of new practice fields. They are scheduled to be ready in the fall, along with two older lots west of the stadium that will get new asphalt. A newer asphalt lot south of 11th Street also has been completed.
Construction of the football complex building southwest of the stadium has taken away one lot.
"Some of that will shake out when we get these lots back (around the football complex in 2008)," Nachtigal said.
With the loss of several parking spots southeast of the stadium to make way for the practice fields and with the construction ongoing this season, the athletic department expects some tailgaters to move west of the stadium to the newer lots.
"We are going to have a lot of parking around the stadium still, and it should be the same atmosphere it was before, and hopefully it will be even better," Nachtigal said of the completed project.
TV production area
Near the northwest corner of the stadium, crews have nearly finished laying a new concrete space for television trucks used to cover games.
"We accommodated the space and the capability for all of the newest HD requests and things like that so we could have the top-of-the-line production here," Nachtigal said.
Two new synthetic turf practice fields will be constructed southeast of the stadium, just north of Spencer Museum of Art. The fields will extend to the north and stop at the southeast edge of the stadium.
The team also will be able to practice on the stadium's field. The parking lot directly east of the stadium will remain intact.
"Certainly having all of this facility close together is going help the football program immensely," said Jim Marchiony, KU associate athletics director. "We feel that to be competitive in the Big 12, we need to be doing these kinds of things, and it will help the program to have all of it consolidated in this area."