Building a nest
Evolving football facility already a recruiting asset
Brad Nachtigal slithers around construction areas and past dozens of workers as he shows off Kansas University’s new pride and joy.
He looks every bit the part of an expert. Probably because he is.
Though the Anderson Family Football Complex is only 65 percent complete at this point, it’s not too early for the KU football team to use it as a recruiting tool.
So with the help of Nachtigal, KU’s assistant athletic director for facilities planning, Kansas football recruits put on a hard hat, safety glasses and an orange vest nearly every Saturday and take a tour of KU’s future home for football.
Right now, it requires some imagination – the 80,000-square-foot complex still is a mess. Only half of the windows are in place, many of the interior walls still are missing, and roughly six months of work by Turner Construction still is left before it’s ready to go.
But it’s getting there. And that has Nachtigal – and many others around the campus – thrilled about what’s in store.
“Seeing the progress, week to week,” Nachtigal said of what excites him most. “Being able to come through and see things developed as they’re designed.”
The first thing you notice is all the deep thinking put into every architectural decision that was made.
Like anyone buying a new house, it’s obvious that what hinders the Jayhawks in their current digs is addressed thoroughly in their future home.
For one, everything is connected. Downstairs, the locker room entrance is right by the corner of Memorial Stadium. Just down the hall is a training room. Adjacent to that is an on-site X-ray room. Across the hall from that is a hydrotherapy room. Just around the corner is a nutritional area and a player’s lounge.
“They don’t have to go outside or to different corridors or anything like that,” Nachtigal said. “It’s all direct connect. It’s all integrated so they can do the total training.”
The dominating area of the lower level, though, is at the south end. There, at the end of the hallway, is a massive strength and conditioning area.
The weightroom, with a two-story high ceiling, is around 8,500 square feet by itself – almost all of it completely underground. Around the corner from the weight room will be a 5,700-square foot agility area carpeted in artificial turf. There, players can stretch, do warmup drills or even sprint workouts.
In the corner of the L-shaped room is a two-story ramp for incline training. KU already has a similar setup at the Anderson Family Strength Center adjacent to Allen Fieldhouse, where athletes can do uphill sprints, wheelbarrows and other grueling workouts.
The lower level definitely is the practical area, the place where players prepare for football or clean up from football. This fall, it surely will stink of sweat as the Jayhawks prepare to sustain the success from last season’s Orange Bowl champion team. A lot of work will be done down here.
It’s upstairs, however, where the minds will go to work.
The beauty of the Anderson Family Football Complex is on the top floor in the northeast corner.
That will be coach Mark Mangino’s office. The exterior walls are all windows, and a door to a small balcony is on the opposite side of the room from the entrance to his own personal bathroom.
But that’s the small stuff – it’s the scenery that makes this office magnificent. Out the east windows, a picturesque view of Campanile Hill. Out the north windows, the ability to view the inside of Memorial Stadium up close.
The head coach’s office is at the end of a hallway of offices belonging to coaches and other staff members. Right now, the rooms are separated merely by beams, as the interior walls have yet to be installed.
On the opposite end of the hallway from Mangino’s den is an expanded video area, where film can be spliced and diced and sent to different meeting rooms for consumption.
“This is a much, much, much improved area over what our video folks have to work with right now,” Nachtigal said. “It’s probably four times as large.”
As for those meeting rooms? They’re quite a bit bigger, too, more centralized and right near the coaches’ offices.
Down the hall from that, along the west wall of the complex, will be the main entrance. It expects to be visually appealing, with a balcony overlooking the downstairs and enough space to make anyone comfortable.
Right now, KU officials are in discussions about what kind of memorabilia to decorate the main entrance with. But it will have plenty of stuff, perhaps NFL jerseys of former Jayhawks and other items that will impress visitors (notably recruits).
“It’s almost like a mini-hall of athletics for football,” associate A.D. Jim Marchiony said, referencing the Booth Family Hall of Athletics at Allen Fieldhouse.
Next to the main entrance is the team auditorium, a 134-seat area where meetings involving the entire team can be conducted, as well as press conferences after games.
The room is set up to be divided in half, in case offense and defense need to meet separately at the same time.
On time, on budget
The unpredictable winter has caused a few problems for Turner Construction. But the roof is on the complex, and the windows that aren’t installed yet are covered so work can be done indoors if it’s too cold outside.
On this day, it’s freezing with gusting winds. Yet dozens of workers are inside getting after it – drills, table saws and hammers echo through the place all morning long.
The sounds of progress.
“There’s been some weather days that they’ve been delayed with snow and ice,” Nachtigal said. “They’ve done a very good job of coordinating the schedule where they can work inside when they need to and outside when they need to.”
As of right now, the project still is expected to be completed within the $31 million that was raised from various donors, mainly the families of Dana Anderson and Tom Kivisto. Move-in is expected to be around the original target date of early July.
That’s still months away, but the imagination needs to work less and less each day as the building takes shape.
As Nachtigal says, every day he visits, he’s “seeing it come to a reality.”
And reality – once a pipe dream several years ago – is almost here.