Kansas University track legend Wes Santee said Tuesday that next spring's Kansas Relays will be the last held at Memorial Stadium, but the athletic department said Santee prematurely was kicking to the finish line this time.
"We've had a briefing," Santee said. "They're going to take the track out of Memorial Stadium, period. (Track) will have its own facility southwest of Allen Fieldhouse. ... This will be the last year in the football stadium. I know they're planning to do some special things to make it an event, and probably they'll invite everybody back."
The proposed location for a new track and for a soccer game field is at the old football practice fields, but as of now, not enough funds have been raised to shift the project into the definite stage, according to an athletic department spokesman.
"There is a master plan that involves that, but to say it is 100 percent certain right now as we sit here and talk is jumping the gun, to use a track term," associate athletic director Jim Marchiony said.
Will the track be relocated in time for the 2010 Kansas Relays?
"It could be, but that's going to depend on fundraising," Marchiony said.
The goal is to build a track facility with 5,000 seats that could expand to 10,000 with temporary seating.
The "master plan" includes a resurfacing of the football field, at which time the track would be removed. The lanes on the new track would be six inches wider, in accordance with updated recommended lane widths. Widening the lanes at Memorial Stadium would require removing rows of seats for football games, which will not happen.
Asked how he felt about the proposed move, Santee said, "I love Memorial Stadium. But let's be honest, the current athletic administration does everything first class. So if they put a first-class track down there, with locker rooms and all that stuff to go with it, fix it up first class so the people could see all the events, it could be good."
Santee, 76 and a resident of El Dorado, sounded more concerned about the substance of the Kansas Relays than the location.
"I would hope we would go back to making sure we get a lot of colleges here," he said. "Texas, Oklahoma, Michigan, Michigan State, Missouri. We have all these Big 12 and surrounding schools. They ought to be able to put on a show, so let's do it."
Santee pointed to what he called a perfect model for the Kansas Relays.
"The Drake Relays is still a major track meet," Santee said. "One of the big differences at Drake is Des Moines, Ia., gets big-time involved. They have a queen and a parade and all the businesses downtown really turn their attention to it. That hasn't happened here since the '50s. We had some floats and parades at that time for the Relays. That became a major promotion for the townspeople. If they do it well and KU does it well then we sell hotel rooms and food and it's good for the town."